SEATTLE (AP) — Dropping three of four immediately following the All-Star break, and being held to two runs of less in all three, is already bringing questions of what’s wrong with the Cleveland Indians offense.
Terry Francona isn’t worried, yet.
“We’re not rolling but our pitching, thankfully, is keeping us in games,” Francona said. “If our pitching keeps pitching like this, we’re going to be just fine. We just have to keep plugging away.”
The Indians couldn’t capitalize on scoring chances early, and Seattle made solo homers from Kendrys Morales and Mike Zunino stand up in a 2-1 win over Cleveland on Monday night.
Seattle won its seventh straight, the longest current streak in baseball, and did it without manager Eric Wedge. During batting practice Wedge suffered dizziness and had to be helped off the field and into the Mariners clubhouse by team personnel.
He was later taken to a local hospital for tests and is expected to stay overnight.
“He’s resting and he’s feeling fine right now, he’s feeling a lot better. … He should be fine and I’m sure the `W’ is going to help him out a little bit,” said Seattle bench coach Robby Thompson.
Morales led off the fourth inning with a homer and Zunino did the same in the fifth off Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez, helping Seattle increase its league-leading total to 29 homers in July. The seven-game streak is the longest for Seattle since winning eight straight in August 2012.
That was all Seattle managed against Jimenez and the rest of the Indians staff. But Cleveland’s bats were just as silent against Seattle starter Aaron Harang.
“We missed some opportunities early in the game. These games from here on out, they count. No way around it,” Cleveland’s Michael Bourn said. “Sometimes you make mistakes, but we have to be able to press for nine innings. We can’t think because we stole one or two runs it’s over.”
Harang (5-8) gave up a solo homer in the first to Nick Swisher, and danced around trouble for his second win in the last three starts. Swisher was hitting in the No. 2 spot for the first time this season, a move Francona hoped the switch might spark Swisher, who entered the night hitting .238.
The move worked early, as Swisher drove his 10th homer of the season out to left-center field in the first, then singled in his next at-bat in the third to put runners on the corners with one out. Harang escaped that jam with a strikeout of Jason Kipnis and a groundout by Asdrubal Cabrera. The Indians left Carlos Santana at third base in the fourth and Harang found a groove.
Harang retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced. He threw only 11 pitches total in the sixth and seventh innings combined.
“He comes right at you the first time through the lineup, then the second and third time he starts mixing his other pitches,” Swisher said. “When he is throwing the first pitch off-speed for strikes, locating and keeping the fastball down, it makes for tough at-bats.”
Cleveland threatened in the ninth against Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen, who blew a game against the Indians earlier in the season. He gave up a one-out double to Michael Brantley. Santana grounded out, with Brantley advancing to third before Jason Giambi walked. Wilhelmsen then got Lonnie Chisenhall to fly out to right for the final out and his 22nd save.
Cleveland pitchers had gone nine games — 85 innings — without allowing a home run. Jimenez (7-5) kept the streak going through 88 innings until Morales led off the fourth with his 15th homer of the season, which curled just inside the right-field foul pole.
An inning later, Zunino fell behind 0-2 and Jimenez tried to sneak a fastball past the rookie. But fastballs are the one pitch Zunino has shown he can hit at the major league level, and he lined a 411-foot shot into the left field bullpens for his second career homer.
Seattle has now homered in 25 of the last 26 games, the only break in the streak coming last Saturday when they won in Houston with just one hit.
Jimenez allowed only five hits and struck out six, but struggled with walks and a high pitch count. He walked four and was at 109 pitches when he was pulled with two outs in the sixth inning.
“It is tough. The main goal is to minimize the mistakes. You don’t want a mistake, especially to a hitter like Morales,” Jimenez said.
Notes: Seattle rookie SS Brad Miller was named the AL player of the week on Monday after hitting .385 with two homers and seven RBIs in Seattle’s three-game sweep of Houston. He is the first Seattle rookie to be named player of the week since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989. … Swisher had hit in the No. 3 or No. 4 spot all season until Monday. … Seattle RF Michael Saunders had a 10-game hitting streak snapped.