Indians-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

While the surging Cleveland Indians have had a rough go at home, they're proving to be plenty formidable in opposing stadiums.

Looking to open 5-0 on the road for the first time in 14 seasons, the Indians continue a three-game set with the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night seeking a 12th win in 14 games at Safeco Field.

Cleveland (5-4) will be without Asdrubal Cabrera again after he was placed on the bereavement list following a family death. The Indians, however, didn't have much trouble overcoming the star shortstop's absence during Tuesday's come-from-behind 9-8 win over Seattle (6-6).

Trailing 8-1 after four innings, Cleveland stormed back behind a seven-run fifth before improving to 4-0 as the visiting team for the second consecutive season. The Indians haven't won their first five road games since opening 6-0 in 1998.

Cleveland hit just .176 in losing four of five on its own field but has thrived at the plate during its current nine-game trek. Manager Manny Acta's club has scored a combined 41 runs while batting .333 on the road.

The Indians have had the Mariners' number at Safeco, outscoring them 85-39 in taking 11 of the last 13 there.

The Mariners are batting just .220 and have compiled a 4.30 ERA during a 3-5 skid.

"It's some hit and miss right now, but ... right now everybody's on their own program to push forward and get better," manager Eric Wedge told the team's official website. "We're pushing in that direction."

Taking the hill for Cleveland on Wednesday will be Derek Lowe (2-0, 1.98 ERA), who's impressed since coming over from Atlanta via trade during the offseason. While opponents are batting .296 against the 38-year-old veteran sinkerballer, he's issued just one walk over two starts spanning 13 2-3 innings.

Lowe was a bit shaky - surrendering 11 hits and three runs over 6 2-3 innings - during Friday's 8-3 win at Kansas City, but managed to work his way out of trouble.

"He's a contact pitcher, sinkerballer. What'd we hit into - five double plays, maybe?" Royals first baseman Billy Butler told the Indians' official website.

Lowe, who started his big-league career with Seattle in 1997, is 5-1 with a 3.32 ERA against the Mariners dating to 2002. In his only outing against them over the previous five seasons, Lowe allowed one run and four hits over six innings of a 5-3 Braves' win at Safeco Field on June 29.

Ichiro, 9 for 24 (.375) lifetime against Lowe, is hitting 5 for 28 (.179) over his last seven games.

Lowe will be opposed by Jason Vargas (1-1, 3.44), who after allowing a combined three runs in his first two starts, was tagged for four in 6 2-3 innings of Thursday's 5-3 loss at Texas.

With his first three games all coming on the road, Vargas is surely looking forward to pitching at home, where he went 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA over three starts in September.

The left-hander, though, has been shelled in two career home outings versus the Indians, going 0-2 while allowing a combined 13 runs in just 7 1-3 innings. Vargas, in contrast, is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts at Cleveland.

Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana, who hit a three-run homer Tuesday, is batting .298 with five long balls and 13 RBIs in his last 12 road games dating to last season.

The Indians signed 38-year-old outfielder Johnny Damon to a minor league contract Tuesday. Damon could debut within the next couple of weeks.