The Seattle Mariners know it would take a very strong finish for them to rejoin the playoff chase. Blowing early leads and struggling with runners in scoring position like they did in their last game won’t help.
Seattle (63-60) looked ready to contend after winning five of its first seven games following the All-Star break. Since that stretch, however, the Mariners have gone 12-16, never winning more than two consecutive games.
Seattle scored three runs in the first inning Saturday before eventually losing 4-3 in 11 innings. It went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position while falling 7 1/2 games back in the AL wild-card race.
“We did not play well enough to win,” manager Don Wakamatsu told the Mariners’ official Web site. “It came down to the offense’s inability to score runs.”
Indians second baseman Luis Valbuena(notes) scored the tying run in the seventh inning, then hit a walkoff home run with two outs in the 11th. Valbuena, whom the Indians (53-69) acquired from the Mariners in a December trade, is hitting .368 with two homers, three RBIs and four runs scored over his last five games.
His homer was the Indians’ first at Progressive Field since Aug. 2, a span of 11 games—two short of the team’s record for longest drought in home games set in 1991 at old Cleveland Stadium.
“I don’t try for home runs. I try to hit with a lot of good contact,” Valbuena said. “I wanted to make a good impression on (the Mariners). I was running the bases like I was on air.”
The Mariners hope to rebound with Hernandez (12-4, 2.66 ERA) on the mound. The right-hander has a 2.00 ERA in four August starts but has been rewarded with just one win. He held Detroit to one run and five hits while striking out nine in seven innings Tuesday, but the Seattle bullpen blew an eighth-inning lead in the 5-3 loss.
Hernandez is 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in six career starts against the Indians. He’s posted a 2.70 ERA and struck out 23 over 20 innings while winning his last three games against them, including a 6-2 victory in Cleveland on July 17.
Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore(notes) is 7 for 14 with a triple, three doubles, two walks and four strikeouts lifetime against Hernandez. Sizemore, a Seattle native, is hitting .212 against the Mariners this season.
Valbuena has struck out in both his at-bats against Hernandez. He’s also walked once against him.
Fausto Carmona(notes) (2-8, 6.31) will take the mound for Cleveland. The right-hander has a 3.27 ERA in four starts since he was called up from an eight-week stint in the minors July 31, but he’s 0-2 in that stretch.
Carmona gave up five runs - three earned - in five innings to suffer a 5-4 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday. He’s 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA in two career starts against Seattle.