Mariners 4, Indians 3
Kyle Seager and Tom Wilhelmsen walked out of Cleveland in May feeling bitten by a run of bad luck that saw the Seattle Mariners lose twice in extra innings as part of a four-game sweep by the Indians.
The luck seems to be evening out.
Seager and Mike Zunino came up with clutch hits early, and the Mariners used an unlikely ninth inning double play to pull out a 4-3 win over the Indians on Tuesday night and extend their winning streak to eight games.
Playing without ailing manager Eric Wedge for a second straight game, the Mariners took advantage of defensive miscues by the Indians, received solid pitching and executed flawlessly in the ninth inning when it appeared Cleveland was set to at least tie the game. The Mariners extended the longest current win streak in baseball and have a chance Wednesday for their first nine-game win streak since 2003.
''When we were in Cleveland they were playing really good baseball obviously and they got a few breaks for them and that's what good teams do,'' Seager said. ''This series we've been playing pretty well and we've been able to capitalize when given the opportunities.''
The ninth started ominously with Mark Reynolds singling on Wilhelmsen's first pitch of the inning. Drew Stubbs came on to pinch run and went racing to third on Lonnie Chisenhall's single up the middle to put runners on the corners with no outs.
That's when the craziness began.
Yan Gomes hit a chopper to third base. Seager briefly looked at Stubbs and quickly threw to second to get pinch runner Mike Aviles. Stubbs found himself caught between making a sprint for the plate or staying at third. When he started to break for home, Nick Franklin was already throwing to the plate. Stubbs was caught in a rundown and eventually tagged out by shortstop Brad Miller.
It was a fundamentally solid play mostly by a group of players that haven't been in the big leagues for very long.
''Our young guys right there, the way they executed that was quite impressive, starting with Seager and then Franklin and Miller getting over there. That's not an easy guy to track down either,'' said Seattle bench coach Robby Thompson, who filled in for Wedge again. ''It was great court awareness, if you would, for the young guys.''
Stubbs said he never should have hesitated once Seager threw to second.
''It's a play you've got to run through scenarios in your head and make your mind up and go with it,'' Stubbs said. ''Any slight hesitation is going to cost you like it did.''
Wilhelmsen then struck out Michael Bourn looking to end it.
''That's what winning is about, is taking advantage of those opportunities and we're starting to do that more times than not as of late,'' Wilhelmsen said.
The Mariners believed they would have Wedge back in the dugout a day after he went to a local hospital following dizzy spells during batting practice. But doctors kept Wedge for one more night while more tests were run to try and determine a cause. Thompson improved to 2-0 as the Mariners fill-in manager.
Seager had an RBI double in the first, an inning that was kept alive by a Cleveland error. He singled and scored the tying run in the third and Zunino came through with a two-out RBI off Cleveland starter Zach McAllister (4-6) later in the inning to give Seattle the lead.
Zunino had a solo homer on Monday night that was the winning run in a 2-1 victory.
Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez and a pair of relievers made the one-run lead stand up. Ramirez (1-1) pitched 5 2-3 innings, before giving way to Yoervis Medina, who threw 2 1-3 innings allowing just one hit. Wilhelmsen's wild ninth was good enough for his 23rd save.
Ramirez gave up a two-run homer to Gomes in the second, but allowed only one baserunner past first base the rest of the night. The big inning for Ramirez was the third, when the Indians had runners on the corners and two outs and got Reynolds to weakly ground out.
''Sometimes things just kind of snowball and go your way and they seem to be going our way a little bit,'' Thompson said.
NOTES: Cleveland's three errors matched its season high, done on two other occasions this season. ... Seattle sent reliever Bobby LaFromboise to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday to clear a roster spot for Ramirez to make the start. ... Three of Gomes' seven homers this season have come against Seattle.