Mariners-Indians Preview

The Cleveland Indians made a point not to take the lowly Seattle

Mariners lightly. They have not done a good job of practicing what

they preach.

Coming off an eventful doubleheader split, the Indians look to

avoid dropping below .500 for the first time since the third game

of the season when they conclude the four-game set against Felix

Hernandez and the Mariners on Wednesday at Progressive Field.

After Shin-Soo Choo’s three-run homer in the ninth helped

Cleveland (63-63) snap a four-game skid with a 7-5 win in the first

game Tuesday, Seattle scored 10 runs in the third and fourth

innings en route to a 12-7 win in the nightcap.

On a day when the effects of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered

in Virginia caused the upper deck and press box inside Progressive

Field to sway during the first game, the Indians fell six games

behind AL Central leader Detroit. Losers of five of six, Cleveland

has dropped 4 1/2 games in the standings in five days.

“I’m just trying to win ballgames,” manager Manny Acta said.

“Wake me up when we’re completely out of it mathematically.”

The Indians talked about not taking the Mariners (55-73) for

granted, but that does not appear the case as they try to avoid

falling below the break-even mark for the first time since they

were 1-2 on April 3.

“Teams like (Seattle) have got guys playing for next year, young

guys getting called up and showing what they’ve got for the first

time,” closer Chris Perez told the Indians’ official website. “I

guarantee they don’t care what their record is.”

Franklin Gutierrez had five hits and three RBIs over both games

while rookie Dustin Ackley drove in three runs in the nightcap for

Seattle, which had lost five straight before winning 3-2 on

Monday.

The Mariners look to further reinforce their role as spoiler by

handing the ball to Hernandez (11-11, 3.38 ERA), who is 4-3 with a

2.78 ERA in nine starts versus Cleveland.

Though the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has lost his last

two starts at Progressive Field despite allowing three earned runs,

Hernandez gave up four hits and struck out nine over eight innings

of a 3-0 win in his most recent outing against the Indians on Sept.

5.

The right-hander could not hold a one-run lead when he allowed

two of his three runs in the eighth inning of a 3-2 loss in Tampa

on Friday.

“Baseball is like that,” Hernandez said. “Can’t do anything

about that.”

Choo is 4 for 17 (.235) with a homer and nine strikeouts versus

Hernandez, but he homered twice and drove in five runs in a

doubleheader that came one day after the birth of his daughter.

He’s 15 for 36 with three homers and eight RBIs in his last eight

games.

Scheduled Indians starter Josh Tomlin (12-6, 4.03) allowed three

runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-4 win April 10 to improve to 2-0 with

a 4.26 ERA against the Mariners.

Looking to win back-to-back starts for the first time since June

17-22, the right-hander gave up four runs on three homers in 6 2-3

innings of a 4-1 loss at Detroit on Friday.

The Indians announced that slugger Travis Hafner may need

season-ending surgery on a sprained right foot. He was hitting .281

with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs in 82 games.