After sweeping one of their top competitors, the Indians look to match a season high with a sixth straight win as they face the struggling Mariners in a makeup game Thursday night.
Cleveland (75-57) is coming off a three-game sweep of Minnesota, winning the finale 4-3 on Wednesday night. The Indians now have an 8 1/2-game lead over the Twins in the AL Central, and are four games ahead of second-place Detroit.
“We definitely have something to prove to everybody,” Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia said.
A win Thursday would give Cleveland its third six-game winning streak of the season.
This is the third makeup game of the year between the Indians and Mariners (73-58), whose season-opening, four-game series in Cleveland was snowed out.
For Seattle, this is the start of a 10-game road trip that also includes stops at Toronto, New York and Detroit. The Mariners has lost five straight, including a three-game series with the first-place Los Angeles Angels to fall five games back in the AL West, and now lead the Yankees by one percentage point for the wild card.
“It’s serious,” Seattle pitcher Jarrod Washburn said. “There’s no room for error.”
The Mariners have had a tough time at the plate during their skid, scoring only 14 runs. Seattle’s 8-2 loss to Los Angeles in the series finale Wednesday was the fourth time in five games it was held to three runs or less.
The Mariners were outscored by the Angels 24-8, outhit 43-23 and had just five extra-base hits. Their losing streak follows a stretch during which they won 13 of 17 to close within one game of Los Angeles last week.
Seattle will now give the ball to Horacio Ramirez (8-4, 6.67 ERA), who has the worst ERA among the team’s starters. The left-hander is 3-2 with a 7.65 ERA in his last seven outings.
Ramirez gave up three unearned runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-3 loss to Texas on Saturday night, and will be making his first appearance against the Indians.
Cleveland will counter with rookie Aaron Laffey (2-1, 4.76 ERA), who has never faced the Mariners. The 22-year-old left-hander is coming off the best of his three major league starts, allowing two runs and eight hits in six innings to beat Kansas City 9-4 on Saturday night.
Laffey has gotten 15 runs to work with over his last two starts. Rookie Asdrubal Cabrera, who went 2-for-5 with an RBI in Laffey’s last outing, continues to play well since moving into the starting lineup three weeks ago.
Cabrera had a two-run homer Wednesday, and is hitting .316 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 16 games. Cleveland is 10-3 with him in the starting lineup.
The Indians and Mariners have split two games this season. The teams’ final makeup game will played as part of a doubleheader in Seattle on Sept. 26.