To pull off that feat, the Indians will have to figure out how to beat another one of the Mariners’ top starters, Hisashi Iwakuma on Monday afternoon.
Cleveland (25-17) jumped on Seattle ace Felix Hernandez early in a 6-0 win Sunday. The Indians scored five runs in the first two innings en route to earning their 17th victory in 21 games and 12th in their last 14 at home.
“We’re loose and we’re not holding nothing back,” outfielder Michael Brantley said. “Everybody has smiles on their faces. We just want to make sure we enjoy this. We’re playing great baseball right now and we just want to keep it up.”
Brantley drove in four of those runs, three on his second home run of the season. The Indians are 7-1 against Cy Young Award winners this season.
“We just take it as a challenge,” first baseman Nick Swisher said. “We’ve got that scrappy-type and gritty-type of team. It may not always be pretty, man, but somehow we’re going to find a way to get it done. We just love coming to the ballpark right now. … Things are rocking.”
Cleveland will next face Iwakuma (5-1, 1.84 ERA), who now has the best ERA in the Mariners’ rotation. The right-hander has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts and has pitched at least seven innings in winning each of his last three. He’s also struck out 26 and walked only three over 27 innings in his past four games.
Iwakuma walked none and gave up two runs over seven frames in Wednesday’s 12-2 rout over the New York Yankees.
In his only start against Cleveland, Iwakuma gave up one run over 5 2-3 innings but did not get a decision in a 3-1 win Aug. 22. This time, he’ll try to prevent the Indians’ first four-game sweep of the Mariners since Aug. 27-30, 1981, at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
Cleveland has won five straight over Seattle (20-24) at Progressive Field, its longest home win streak in the series since a six-game run from 1999-2000.
Scott Kazmir (2-2, 5.33) will try to help keep that going while rebounding from his first loss in three outings. The left-hander gave up four runs over five innings in a 6-2 defeat in Philadelphia on Tuesday after posting a 2.65 ERA in his previous three games.
“I was just pretty much fighting myself all game. I never really got into a rhythm,” he said.
Kazmir has allowed three runs over 12 innings while winning each of his first two home starts with Cleveland. He’s 3-3 with a 3.27 ERA in nine career starts against the Mariners, but hasn’t faced them since May 28, 2010.
Along with trying to deny Cleveland the series sweep, Seattle is seeking to avoid its first four-game skid since Sept. 28-Oct. 1.