Indians 18, Mariners 6
SEATTLE (AP)—Victor Martinez was struggling over the last couple of weeks so he asked his batting coach Eddie Murray for some advice.
“He told me one thing that I really appreciated,” Martinez said. “He told me, ‘Relax. Don’t try to kill the ball.”’
Martinez then had a game that would impress even a Hall of Famer with 504 career home runs: He hit three of the Cleveland Indians’ club record-tying eight homers and drove in a career-high seven runs in an 18-6 rout of the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Matt Lawton, Martinez and Casey Blake connected for consecutive homers in a six-run third inning for the Indians. In the ninth, Martinez, Travis Hafner and Ben Broussard all homered off Julio Mateo. And Jody Gerut connected off Mike Myers for Cleveland’s eighth homer, which tied the club record set at Milwaukee April 25, 1997.
Martinez is having a breakout season after hitting .289, with one homer and 16 RBIs, in 49 games for the Indians last season. He made his first All-Star team and leads all catchers with 70 RBIs.
After the game, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound catcher kept the media waiting for about an hour so he could lift weights.
In July, he was hitting .175 (7-for-40), with one homer and six RBIs, coming into Friday’s game.
After working with Murray, the switch-hitting Martinez went 5-for-5. He hit a three-run homer and a solo shot from the right side of the plate and a solo shot from the left. He also had a two-run single.
“You know what. I never think about getting in a slump,” he said, still sweating from his workout. “I know when I get good at-bats I can hit the ball right.”
After Hafner’s homer, Mateo hit Lou Merloni in the back with a pitch and was ejected by plate umpire Tim Tschida. Both benches emptied onto the field, but there were no punches thrown.
The managers differed on what happened.
“It was obvious that he hit him on purpose,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “That’s what the result was.”
But Mariners manager Bob Melvin said, “They were hanging out there, getting some good swings and he (Mateo) wanted to get them off the plate. One just got away.”
The eight homers were the most given up by the Mariners, who have lost 10 of 11. The eight homers also were a record at Safeco Field.
“They were taking some batting practice swings today,” Melvin said. “You don’t see too many balls go out in batting practice with the frequency you see tonight.”
The 18 runs and 21 hits by the Indians were season highs.
Cliff Lee (10-1) won his fifth straight decision. The 25-year-old left-hander who came to the Indians in a trade in June 2002 that sent Bartolo Colon to Montreal, pitched six innings and gave up three runs on four hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. His only loss in 19 starts this season came June 3 in Anaheim.
Rookie Travis Blackley (1-2) couldn’t get a batter out in the sixth, when the Indians took a 7-0 lead.
“When you don’t have your good stuff, you get hard,” Blackley said. “That’s what happened tonight.”
Lawton, Martinez and Blake gave Cleveland a 5-0 lead with their homers in the third. Lawton’s drive was a two-run homer, his 16th of the season.
Lawton, who also played in Tuesday’s All-Star game, lauded Martinez.
“He’s a young player player, but he swings the bat like a seasoned veteran,” Lawton said. “It was definitely a career night for him. He’s going to be a great player for a long time.”
It was the 11th time in franchise history that the Indians had three consecutive homers, the last time was against California on Sept. 12, 1996, by Jim Thome, Albert Belle and Julio Franco. Their four home runs in the ninth tied a club record for homers in an inning, last accomplished against the Los Angeles Angels on July 31, 1963.
Jody Gerut added an RBI double and Ronnie Belliard an RBI single for Cleveland’s other two runs in the sixth.
Blackley, 21, a left-hander from Australia who is regarded as one of the most promising prospects in the Mariners’ farm system, gave up seven runs on seven hits, three walks and a hit batter in two innings. In three starts since being called up from Triple-A Tacoma July 1, he has an 11.37 ERA.
Ron Villone, who will make his second start of the season for Seattle Monday night against Boston, allowed Martinez’s 14th homer in the sixth.
Martinez had a two-run single off George Sherrill, making his major league debut, in the seventh.
Mariners rookie Justin Leone had a three-run homer in the fourth, his second homer in two nights, and an RBI double in the ninth.
Bucky Jacobsen, 28, went 1-for-2 in his major league debut for Seattle.
The Indians had two runners thrown out at the plate in the fourth, when Martinez and Blake opened with singles. Second baseman Bret Boone threw Martinez out at the plate when he attempted to score on Hafner’s fielder’s choice. Blake was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Raul Ibanez for a double play after Ibanez caught Meloni’s shallow flyball.