Mariners 9, Indians 2

One of their hottest hitters got hurt without even swinging the

bat. Their most consistent pitcher had the shortest outing of his

career, and the last-place Seattle Mariners spent four days taking

batting practice against Cleveland’s worn-out staff.

Frayed all season, the Indians are falling apart.

Felix Hernandez shook off a hard fall on a fielding play to

strike out 10, Wily Mo Pena drove in four runs and the Mariners

chased Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin before the sixth inning for

the first time Wednesday in a 9-2 rout that left the Indians’

playoff hopes flickering.

Just 1 1/2 games out of first place less than a week ago, the

Indians have lost six of seven and are under .500 for the first

time since April 3. They’re 6 1/2 games behind Detroit in the AL

Central.

The race may go on without Cleveland.

”I still feel like we have a good streak in us,” manager Manny

Acta said, staying positive. ”We’ve still got to play the games.

We have to get out there and fight.”

The Indians don’t have much punch left.

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo hurt his back on a check-swing Tuesday

night, and when he reported that it was sore while taking pitches

during pregame indoor batting practice, Acta dropped him from

Wednesday’s starting lineup. Also, catcher Carlos Santana left

woozily in the ninth after taking a foul tip off his mask. He was

being evaluated for neck pain, Acta said.

Acta has juggled his lineup because of injuries all season, and

his batting order included just three players on the field for him

on opening day.

”You can’t sit here and feel sorry for yourself,” he said.

”It’s tough without Brantley and Kipnis and Hafner and Sizemore

and now Choo, but you have to continue to play.”

Hernandez (12-11) allowed two runs in six innings, and the

Mariners, who got 51 hits in four games, became the first team to

knock Tomlin (12-7) out before the sixth.

Pena hit a two-run homer in the fourth and his two-run double in

the fifth was the final blow for Tomlin, who pitched at least five

innings in each of his first 37 career starts. The right-hander and

current Toronto manager John Farrell are the only two pitchers

since 1919 to begin their careers so consistently.

Mariners rookie Kyle Seager went 4 for 4 with three doubles and

batted .769 (10-for-13) in the four-game series. Seattle pitchers

combined for 16 strikeouts.

Hernandez’s hustle nearly ended his 200th career start

early.

In the third, Cleveland’s Ezequiel Carrera popped up a bunt to

the right side. Hernandez, listed at 6-foot-3 and a generous 225

pounds, made a diving attempt to catch it in the air. He came up a

little short, and his fully extended body and head slammed down

onto the grass.

Hernandez was dazed as a trainer and Mariners manager Eric Wedge

checked on him. The right-hander remained hunched over and seemed

unsure before throwing a few warmup pitches and staying in. The

Mariners continued to look him over when he came back to the

dugout.

”I hit my face,” Hernandez said. ”I was a little bit woozy,

but I was fine after that.”

Hernandez scoffed at the suggestion he wouldn’t continue.

”No doubt,” Hernandez said. ”No one was going to take me out

of that game.”

Tomlin was one strike from owning the record he shares with

Farrell when the Mariners got him in the fifth.

He gave up two singles, got two outs and was ahead 1-2 in the

count before Miguel Olivo hit an RBI single to snap a 2-2 tie.

Seager hit his third double, a ground-rule shot that made it 4-2.

Pena, who homered in his previous at-bat, then laced his double to

finish Tomlin.

Acta hung his head as he walked to the mound to ask Tomlin for

the ball. The right-hander received a warm ovation from Cleveland’s

fans on his way off.

”It didn’t feel good,” Tomlin said of his early exit. ”You

don’t want to leave those guys out to dry – ever. That’s the worst

fear for me, leaving the bullpen out to dry like that.”

The Indians have hardly gone a day without an injury or injury

update.

Choo’s injury came just as Grady Sizemore was taking batting

practice for the first time since July 18. The Indians are also

without designated hitter Travis Hafner, who may need season-ending

foot surgery. Also, starting second baseman Jason Kipnis and

outfielder Michael Brantley are hurt.

It’s forced the club to dip into its Triple-A Columbus roster in

a playoff chase.

”It’s tough and when guys get banged up, but part of the

game,” said third baseman Jack Hannahan, who couldn’t remember the

last time the Indians were healthy. ”It’s tough on these guys

coming up to be thrown in the fire in a race. It’s a lot of

pressure.”

Notes: The Indians are off Thursday before opening a three-game

series with Kansas City. … Sizemore felt ”great” following a

15-minute batting practice session, his first since going on the DL

in July with a bruised knee and following sports hernia surgery.

Sizemore’s latest comeback – he had microfracture surgery last year

– could send him to the minors next week. The Indians hope to have

him back by the second week in September. … LHP Anthony Vasquez,

who won his major league debut Tuesday, might get another start as

Wedge considers a six-man rotation.