Seattle (4-5) at Cleveland (6-2)

Cloudy Currently: Cleveland, OH
Temp: 24° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu Apr 13, 2006
  • TV: FSNW, STO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Seattle Mariners are hoping they have pulled out of a collective slump when they meet the Cleveland Indians in the deciding game of a three-game series on Thursday.

The Mariners (4-5) stopped a four-game losing streak and had 13 hits in an 11-9 win over the Indians on Wednesday. Cleveland had won six in a row.

Ichiro Suzuki went 3-for-4 and scored four runs after going hitless in his previous 18 at-bats.

“I was just about as happy as when I got my first hit,” said Ichiro. “I wanted to keep the ball.”

The All-Star right fielder’s .237 batting average is the lowest of his major league career through the first nine games of a season. He was hitting .417 after nine games in 2005.

Ichiro was not the only Mariners player who was having trouble at the plate.

Richie Sexson hit his 10th career grand slam and Raul Ibanez went 4-for-4 with a double, triple and four RBIs. Both players ended 2-for-17 slumps.

“We needed this,” said Sexson. “We’ve been struggling. Hopefully, everybody can get going now.”

Felix Hernandez hopes so, looking to get the same type of support when he takes the mound for Seattle on Thursday.

A day before turning 20, Hernandez had a shaky season debut on Friday as he took the loss in a 5-0 defeat to the Oakland Athletics. The rookie phenom did have five strikeouts while allowing only one run and two hits, but he walked four, hit a batter and threw 100 pitches in five innings.

“I didn’t have control of any of my pitches,” Hernandez said through a translator. “I was trying to gain control and when I finally did I was able to do a little better, but not much.”

Hernandez will try to help the Mariners to their first series win at Jacobs Field since May 2004.

The Indians (6-2) are hoping Travis Hafner will continue his hot hitting to start the season. The designated hitter hit a two-run homer on Wednesday to give him six in eight games, tying Detroit’s Chris Shelton for the league lead. He also increased his batting average to .433 and has nine RBIs.

Hafner did not hit his first home run in 2005 until the Indians’ 21st game and did not reach six homers until the 50th.

Cleveland will start Jason Johnson, who is looking to open the season with wins in his first two starts for the first time in his 10-year career.

The right-hander made his Indians debut by pitching seven innings, allowing four hits and earning the win in a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday. He joined Cleveland as a free agent in the offseason from the Tigers.

“Jason was outstanding,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge. “He just controlled the game.”

Johnson has struggled against the Mariners with a 3-7 record and a 5.19 ERA in 15 appearances, including 13 starts.

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Starting Pitchers

F. Hernández Sea vs. J. Johnson NYY
12-14 Record 3-12
4.52 ERA 6.10
176 K 54
60 BB 35
1.34 WHIP 1.70