Mariners-Indians Preview

It’s been 32 years since the surging Cleveland Indians swept a

four-game series against the Seattle Mariners.

To pull off that feat, the Indians will have to figure out how

to beat another one of the Mariners’ top starters, Hisashi Iwakuma,

on Monday afternoon.

Cleveland (25-17) jumped on Seattle ace Felix Hernandez early in

a 6-0 win Sunday. The Indians scored five runs in the first two

innings en route to earning their 17th victory in 21 games and 12th

in their last 14 at home.

“We’re loose and we’re not holding nothing back,” outfielder

Michael Brantley said. “Everybody has smiles on their faces. We

just want to make sure we enjoy this. We’re playing great baseball

right now and we just want to keep it up.”

Brantley drove in four of those runs, three on his second home

run of the season. The Indians are 7-1 against Cy Young Award

winners this season.

“We just take it as a challenge,” first baseman Nick Swisher

said. “We’ve got that scrappy-type and gritty-type of team. It may

not always be pretty, man, but somehow we’re going to find a way to

get it done. We just love coming to the ballpark right now. …

Things are rocking.”

Cleveland will next face Iwakuma (5-1, 1.84 ERA), who now has

the best ERA in the Mariners’ rotation. The right-hander has

allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts and has

pitched at least seven innings in winning each of his last three.

He’s also struck out 26 and walked only three over 27 innings in

his past four games.

Iwakuma walked none and gave up two runs over seven frames in

Wednesday’s 12-2 rout over the New York Yankees.

In his only start against Cleveland, Iwakuma gave up one run

over 5 2-3 innings but did not get a decision in a 3-1 win Aug. 22.

This time, he’ll try to prevent the Indians’ first four-game sweep

of the Mariners since Aug. 27-30, 1981, at the old Cleveland

Municipal Stadium.

Cleveland has won five straight over Seattle (20-24) at

Progressive Field, its longest home win streak in the series since

a six-game run from 1999-2000.

Scott Kazmir (2-2, 5.33) will try to help keep that going while

rebounding from his first loss in three outings. The left-hander

gave up four runs over five innings in a 6-2 defeat in Philadelphia

on Tuesday after posting a 2.65 ERA in his previous three

games.

“I was just pretty much fighting myself all game. I never really

got into a rhythm,” he said.

Kazmir has allowed three runs over 12 innings while winning each

of his first two home starts with Cleveland. He’s 3-3 with a 3.27

ERA in nine career starts against the Mariners, but hasn’t faced

them since May 28, 2010.

Along with trying to deny Cleveland the series sweep, Seattle is

seeking to avoid its first four-game skid since Sept. 28-Oct.

1.