Mariners-Indians Preview

The Cleveland Indians remain red hot after taking the first two

of three against the Seattle Mariners.

They’ll have to go through Seattle’s ace if they want a 17th win

in 21 games, but the Indians will also have their top pitcher on

the mound.

Cleveland’s Justin Masterson squares off against Felix Hernandez

and the Mariners on Sunday at Progressive Field.

The Indians (24-17) have won 16 of 21 and 11 of 13 at home

following two dramatic victories over the Mariners, 6-3 on Friday

and 5-4 on Saturday. Jason Kipnis, who delivered the winning homer

in the 10th inning Friday, crossed the plate with the winning run

in the bottom of the ninth in the latest game as Mark Reynolds hit

into a fielder’s choice.

That thwarted Seattle’s comeback attempt, as the Mariners got

homers from Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak off closer Chris Perez in

the top of the inning.

Reynolds had been 3 for 23 over eight games before going 2 for 5

with his 12th homer and three RBIs on Saturday.

“We made it more exciting than it needed to be, but there is

something to be said for being resilient,” manager Terry Francona

said. “Rather than feeling sorry for yourself when you get punched

in the gut, we came back to win.”

Masterson (6-2, 3.14 ERA) pitched his second shutout of the

season and third of his career Monday, throwing a four-hitter with

nine strikeouts in a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees. He’s the

first Indian with two shutouts in a season since Bud Black and Greg

Swindell did it in 1989.

“It’s really just being able to win the game, whether it’s 1-0,

1,500 to zero, it doesn’t matter,” Masterson said. “Guys were

making great plays, that’s what pumps you up as the game goes on.

We’re all in it together.”

The right-hander has gone 3-0 with a 3.67 ERA in nine career

games – six starts – versus Seattle (20-23), but he’s given up 13

runs over 12 innings in his last two starts against them.

Hernandez (5-2, 1.53) has also been rolling, though he suffered

a scare his last time out when he left after six innings against

the Yankees on Tuesday after appearing to hurt his back while

fielding a ground ball and throwing to second.

He was visited by trainers, who didn’t seem to be overly

concerned.

“I felt a pinch in there – nothing bad. Nothing serious,” he

told the team’s official website after allowing one run and

striking out eight. “I’ll be ready for the next one.”

Hernandez has not allowed more than one earned run in his last

six starts.

He’s gone 6-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 13 starts versus Cleveland. The

right-hander has limited Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera to a

combined 13 of 65 (.200), though Swisher has four home runs in 48

at-bats.

Masterson has also given a number of Mariners trouble, with

Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, Smoak and Dustin Ackley going a combined 6

for 35 (.171) against him.