Can Iwakuma slow down Santana?
Carlos Santana is locked in at the plate after a slow start to the season, putting together a historic showing in the Cleveland Indians’ last series.
The Seattle Mariners could struggle to keep up with Santana given their recent offensive ineptitude.
Santana looks to continue his sizzling stretch as Cleveland hosts Seattle in Tuesday night’s series opener.
Sunday’s 10-3 win at Kansas City snapped a four-game skid for the Indians (52-53) as Santana went deep twice, tying a club record for home runs in a series with five. The fifth-year slugger is hitting a career-low .232, largely due to a slow start as he batted .175 through his first 57 games with only seven homers.
However, Santana has hit .314 over his last 38 contests with 13 home runs and 28 RBIs. He is 14 for 23 (.609) with six homers and three doubles in his last six games, and his 72 walks lead the majors.
"Even through his struggles early in the year, he was able to find ways to get on base," infielder Mike Aviles said. "You knew with a guy like him it was only a matter of time before he got back on pace."
Santana has driven in 10 runs in his last six games, matching Seattle’s run total during a 1-5 stretch.
The Mariners (54-51) were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position in Sunday’s 3-2, 10-inning defeat to Baltimore and are 3 for 27 in those situations in their last five losses.
Logan Morrison and James Jones are a combined 2 for 43 overall in the last six.
"We just got to get them (hits) at the right times … we’re kind of spreading them out throughout the whole game," Dustin Ackley told baseball’s official website. "Maybe we need that one inning where we just put up some runs. Doing it early would be great too."
Ackley is 17 for 40 (.425) over his last 10 games but has only had six at-bats with runners in scoring position, managing two hits.
Seattle hopes Hisashi Iwakuma (8-5, 3.09 ERA) can slow down Santana. He suffered his first lost in five starts Thursday, allowing four runs over seven innings in a 4-0 defeat to Baltimore. Three of those runs came on a homer from Delmon Young.
He still hasn’t issued a walk in a club-record five straight starts spanning 35 2-3 innings. Cliff Lee’s 38 innings without a walk in June 2010 marks the franchise record, and Iwakuma’s 11.0 strikeouts-to-walks ratio leads baseball.
Iwakuma is without a decision in three career appearances – two starts – against the Indians, posting a 4.02 ERA.
Cleveland counters with Trevor Bauer (4-5, 3.93), who fell to 1-4 away from home Wednesday, surrendering three runs over six innings in 3-1 defeat at Minnesota. However, he’s undefeated in his last six home starts and owns a 2.82 ERA in seven outings at Progressive Field this season.
Bauer was saddled with the loss in a 3-2 defeat at Seattle on June 27, giving up three runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings. Endy Chavez was 2 for 4 against him with a home run.
The Mariners took two of three in that series but have dropped six straight at Cleveland. A seventh straight loss would mark Seattle’s longest skid since a franchise-worst eight-game slide in Cleveland from 1977-79.
Kyle Seager was 6 for 11 in the first series and is a .398 hitter in 22 career games against the Indians with 12 doubles.