Coming off an eventful doubleheader split, the Indians look to avoid dropping below .500 for the first time since the third game of the season when they conclude the four-game set against Felix Hernandez(notes) and the Mariners on Wednesday at Progressive Field.
After Shin-Soo Choo’s(notes) three-run homer in the ninth helped Cleveland (63-63) snap a four-game skid with a 7-5 win in the first game Tuesday, Seattle scored 10 runs in the third and fourth innings en route to a 12-7 win in the nightcap.
On a day when the effects of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia caused the upper deck and press box inside Progressive Field to sway during the first game, the Indians fell six games behind AL Central leader Detroit. Losers of five of six, Cleveland has dropped 4 1/2 games in the standings in five days.
“I’m just trying to win ballgames,” manager Manny Acta said. “Wake me up when we’re completely out of it mathematically.”
The Indians talked about not taking the Mariners (55-73) for granted, but that does not appear the case as they try to avoid falling below the break-even mark for the first time since they were 1-2 on April 3.
“Teams like (Seattle) have got guys playing for next year, young guys getting called up and showing what they’ve got for the first time,” closer Chris Perez(notes) told the Indians’ official website. “I guarantee they don’t care what their record is.”
Franklin Gutierrez(notes) had five hits and three RBIs over both games while rookie Dustin Ackley(notes) drove in three runs in the nightcap for Seattle, which had lost five straight before winning 3-2 on Monday.
The Mariners look to further reinforce their role as spoiler by handing the ball to Hernandez (11-11, 3.38 ERA), who is 4-3 with a 2.78 ERA in nine starts versus Cleveland.
Though the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has lost his last two starts at Progressive Field despite allowing three earned runs, Hernandez gave up four hits and struck out nine over eight innings of a 3-0 win in his most recent outing against the Indians on Sept. 5.
The right-hander could not hold a one-run lead when he allowed two of his three runs in the eighth inning of a 3-2 loss in Tampa on Friday.
“Baseball is like that,” Hernandez said. “Can’t do anything about that.”
Choo is 4 for 17 (.235) with a homer and nine strikeouts versus Hernandez, but he homered twice and drove in five runs in a doubleheader that came one day after the birth of his daughter. He’s 15 for 36 with three homers and eight RBIs in his last eight games.
Looking to win back-to-back starts for the first time since June 17-22, the right-hander gave up four runs on three homers in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 loss at Detroit on Friday.