Indians shoot for series win
After coming out on the wrong end of a historic performance, the Seattle Mariners are hoping ace Felix Hernandez can extend his record stretch as they go for their third straight series win.
With the right-hander seeking his 10th victory, the Mariners will try to get back on track with their seventh win in nine games Sunday against the Cleveland Indians.
Seattle (43-38) totaled 27 runs while hitting .314 with eight home runs over its previous four games before managing only a Kyle Seager single in Saturday’s 5-0 loss at Safeco Field.
Josh Tomlin went the distance and helped Cleveland (39-41) even up the three-game set by joining Len Barker as the only Indians pitchers since 1914 to strike out at least 11 while walking none and giving up no more than one hit in a shutout.
"Our at-bats were not at-bats we want to talk about," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We want to forget about them."
McClendon’s club might not need much scoring with Hernandez (9-2, 2.24 ERA) taking the mound in the finale. He’s gone 5-1 with a 1.48 ERA in his last eight starts, setting a franchise record over that span for consecutive outings of at least seven innings while allowing two earned runs or less.
Hernandez also ranks among MLB leaders in several categories, including wins, ERA, strikeouts (128) and innings (120 1-3).
The four-time All-Star allowed two runs and six hits – including his first homer since April 21 – over seven innings in Monday’s 12-3 home win over Boston. He hadn’t factored into a decision while receiving just one run of support over his previous three outings.
Hernandez is 6-5 with a 3.25 ERA in 14 career starts against the Indians, though he’s been at his best at Safeco with a 3-0 record and 1.47 ERA in five meetings there. He’s only faced them once in the past two seasons, surrendering six runs – five earned – over five innings in a 6-0 road loss May 19, 2013.
Jason Kipnis (6 for 14), Mike Aviles (7 for 17) and Michael Brantley (8 for 20) have each had success when facing Hernandez.
Aviles finished with two hits Saturday, while Yan Gomes homered to help put the Indians in position to win consecutive games for the first time since June 15-16.
Michael Bourn, who doubled Saturday, is batting .375 over a seven-game hitting streak. The veteran leadoff man also has a .385 average in nine career games versus Seattle.
Cleveland is expected to promote T.J. House (0-1, 4.88) on Sunday to fill in for Justin Masterson, who has been bothered by a right knee injury most of the season. The team’s plan is to have Masterson return Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"He feels pretty good," manager Terry Francona said of Masterson. "I think the couple days will do him a lot of good."
House will make his first big-league appearance since June 14, when he gave up two runs over 5 1-3 innings but did not get a decision in a 3-2 victory at Boston. The rookie left-hander is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in his five starts.
Seager has been the Mariners’ hottest hitter, going 12 for 20 with two homers, three doubles and eight RBIs in his last five games. The third baseman is 20 for 34 with three home runs and 16 RBIs over his last nine at home.