Since being called up to make his season debut late last month, Roenis Elias has made the most of his opportunity with the Seattle Mariners.
The left-hander looks to continue his success while trying to win a third straight start Saturday night against the visiting Cleveland Indians.
Since Hisashi Iwakuma suffered a lat injury that’s likely to keep him out until around the All-Star break, Elias (2-1, 2.56 ERA) has more than filled that void. After going 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his first three starts, Elias is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in the last three.
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"Any time you lose a guy of Iwakuma’s status, that’s a big hit," manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB’s official website. "But it was nice to have this young man there waiting in the wings. And he hasn’t disappointed."
Elias has allowed a run in each of those last three starts, and three or fewer while going 5-5 in 16 straight – the third-longest such stretch in club history. He lasted six innings of a 4-1 victory at Tampa Bay on Monday.
"I just relax and try to throw strikes and maintain the situation by staying calm," Elias said.
He hopes to fare better than his other start versus Cleveland (22-26) on June 28 when he allowed five runs in six innings of a 5-0 home defeat.
Elias won’t have an easy time following up Taijuan Walker’s scoreless eight-inning performance during Friday’s 2-1 victory. Seth Smith’s two-run homer in the sixth helped the Mariners (24-24) win for the sixth time in eight games.
Smith, who batted cleanup for the first time this season, is 7 for 19 in the last six games after going 2 for 15 with six strikeouts in his previous six.
"I told him during batting practice that he was my secret weapon, that they wouldn’t know what to think when they didn’t see (Nelson) Cruz (batting fourth)," McClendon said. "He didn’t disappoint."
Teammate Robinson Cano was held out of the starting lineup for a second straight game because of the flu, but if healthy should be glad to see Cleveland’s Shaun Marcum (1-0, 6.28) again. The right-hander hasn’t faced Seattle since 2008 or Cano since 2011, but the veteran second baseman is batting .353 (6 for 17) with a double and triple against him.
Marcum yielded two solo homers over 6 2-3 innings to beat the Chicago White Sox when he was recalled from the minors May 20, then gave up seven runs and two more homers in 2 2-3 innings of a 10-8 loss to Texas on Monday.
”I think the main thing was location,” he said. ”I was up pretty much most of the day even some of the outside I was up in the zone. When you don’t throw 95 (mph), not locating and pitching up in the zone it is going to be a tough day.”
Jason Kipnis had one of the three hits Friday for Cleveland, which had its season-high four-game road winning streak snapped. Kipnis leads the majors this month in batting (.445), on-base percentage (.531) and runs (29). His 49 hits in May are the most by an Indian since at least 1914.
"He’s in the midst of a really good run here,” manager Terry Francona said. ”Right now you’re seeing a good player who feels good, and fun to watch."
Kipnis scored Friday on a ninth-inning triple by Ryan Raburn, who was stranded to end the game.