“I told him, ‘I’m going to make you a star,”’ Washburn said. “It seems like every time I pitch, he makes an awesome play.”
Gutierrez is becoming a star all on his own.
Washburn pitched effectively into the seventh inning and Gutierrez homered against his former team for the second straight night in the Mariners’ 3-1 victory against the Cleveland Indians.
Gutierrez was traded to Seattle in December as part of a three-team deal. Saturday he went the opposite way, as he did Friday, in the fourth inning for a two-run homer. It was the 12th of the season for Gutierrez, who hit a career high 13 with Cleveland two years ago.
“When players that used to play for a club get traded or released, they always have more of an edge when they’re playing their former club,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “That’s very common throughout the game.”
Gutierrez has hit in 24 of his last 26 games, belting seven home runs and driving in 19 during that stretch as the everyday center fielder. While in Cleveland, Gutierrez was forced to play in right.
“I’d never played that position before,” Gutierrez said. “I’m playing center every day now. I’m feeling comfortable and having fun.”
Washburn (7-6) allowed a run in 6 2-3 innings and has given up two runs over his last 23 2-3 innings to win his last three starts. It has lowered his ERA from 3.36 to 2.87—fifth-best in the American League.
He allowed eight hits Saturday—all singles—struck out three and did not walk a batter. Washburn has given up two runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts.
“I wasn’t sharp at all,” Washburn said. “I don’t know how many spots I hit. Not very many.”
Even without his best stuff, Washburn limited Cleveland to a two-out RBI single in the seventh by Jamey Carroll(notes). The throw from Gutierrez beat Victor Martinez(notes) to the plate, but home plate umpire Dana DeMuth called Martinez safe. Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu argued briefly before ending Washburn’s night.
The Indians had baserunners in four of the seven innings against Washburn, but Martinez was easily thrown out trying to stretch a single to the left-field corner into a double in the second inning. Then with two outs and two on in the sixth, Shin-Soo Choo(notes) grounded out to end the threat.
“He didn’t have a good feel for his curveball,” Wakamatsu said. “But to only allow one run shows what kind of competitor he is.”
“They’re two different types of pitchers. You can’t compare them,” Martinez said. “Hernandez is a good right-hander and Washburn is a good lefty. (Washburn) was pitching ahead in the count and throwing early strikes. It’s always tough facing a pitcher who jumps on you.”
Tomo Ohka(notes) (0-4) had his best start in a month, but Gutierrez’s homer was the 10th he has surrendered in 39 1-3 innings this year. Ohka allowed three runs in seven innings Saturday after allowing 15 runs over his last three starts combined.
“He threw the ball where he needed to for the most part,” Wedge said. “When he gets up (in the strike zone), he gets into trouble. But seven innings and three runs, we’ll take that.”
NOTES: Ichrio Suzuki’s hitting streak was snapped at 13 games. … 2B Jose Lopez(notes) left the game in the ninth with tightness in his shoulder. … 1B Russell Branyan will likely sit out Sunday’s finale to rest his ailing back. Seattle is off Monday, which will give him two days of rest. … Cleveland’s Kerry Wood(notes) struck out the side in the ninth. … The Indians have not announced a starter for Thursday, but it won’t be prized prospect Hector Rondon, who has allowed one earned run in 12 innings since being promoted to Triple-A. “Not this early,” Wedge said. “I think he’s had a nice path so far. Let’s keep him on that path.” Wedge didn’t rule out Rondon as a September callup.
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