The Mariners were one squeezed toss from Tom Wilhelmsen away from winning this one, but he could not hold on to the lob by Justin Smoak at the first base bag and enabled the Indians to tie it up 7-7 with two out. Wilhelmsen gave up an infield single to Jason Kipnis, then a two-out single to right by Nick Swisher in the ninth to put runners at the corners.
With Smoak holding the runner on first, Carlos Santana sent a chopper towards the hole in the right side of the infield. Smoak made a great diving stop to his right, then tossed the ball to Wilhelmsen. The closer reached the bag in time, but appeared focused on getting his footwork right so he didn’t miss the base. In doing so, he took his eye off the ball and dropped it.
The runner was safe and we’re all tied up.
In the top of the inning, Endy Chavez hit his first homer of the season, to right center, off Chris Perez to give the Mariners a short-lived 7-6 lead. It’s the third ninth inning homer allowed by closer Perez in his last two games facing the Mariners here.
Tough break for Wilhelmsen and the M’s there.
11:56 a.m.: Well, we just got done discussing how important it was for Yoervis Medina to limit the Indians to just the one run last inning. And we saw why in the top of the eighth as Kyle Seager led things off by ripping a Vinnie Pestano offering into the right field bullpen to tie the game 6-6. That’s the sixth homer of the season by Seager as the Mariners fight to avoid the four-game sweep.
11:48 a.m.: Yoervis Medina came on to pitch the seventh in relief of Hisashi Iwakuma and made a ig mistake by walking the speedy Michael Bourn. A passed ball by Kelly Shoppach enabled Bourn to go to second base and he quickly took third on a groundout by Jason Kipnis. Asdrubal Cabrera then chopped one towards the mound to Medina’s left. He looked once at the plate, realized Bourn was too fast and would score, then tried to throw to first and had the ball slip out of his hand.
So, the Indians took a 6-5 lead.
Then, Medina walked Nick Swisher to put two on and then fell behind 2-0 to Carlos Santana. Shoppach did a good job at that point of going to the mound to settle Medina down. He came back and fired a 95 mph fastball for a called strike, then yielded a long drive to the center field warning track. The ball was caught for a huge second out and then Medina got Mark Reynolds to fly out to left to end the threat.
The Mariners trail by a run, but it was nearly much worse.
10:52 a.m.: The worst news the Mariners got in the fourth inning, in which they tied it up again 5-5, is that Scott Kazmir will no longer be pitching for the Indians. Kazmir’s work is the only thing allowing the Mariners to endure a sub-par Hisashi Iwakuma performance thus far. Kelly Shoppach opened the inning by drawing a walk and then Robert Andino ended Kazmir’s day with a double to right that put runners at second and third with no out.
Brendan Ryan then tied the game with a groundout, Andino taking third. But Andino then broke for home on a contact play and first baseman Nick Swisher made a nice glove stab of a Michael Saunders smash while playing in. Swisher easily threw Andino out at the plate and the inning ended moments later when Saunders was caught stealing.
10:23 a.m.: Hisashi Iwakuma gave the lead back to the Indians in the bottom of the third as Nick Swisher led off with a double, then took third on a flyout. Mark Reynolds walked and Michael Brantley followed with a single to give Cleveland a 5-4 lead. Iwakuma got out of the two-on jam with a 5-4-3 double play.
10:17 a.m.: The Mariners came right back and tied it 4-4 with a pair of third inning runs. Jason Bay led things off with his second hit of the day, then took third on a ground-rule double by Kyle Seager. Kendrys Morales got one run in with a single to center and then the tying run scored when Michael Morse grounded into a double play.
9:56 a.m.: After all that pregame talk about hitting with runners in scoring position, the Mariners did some of it early on. But Ryan Raburn and Yan Gomes just erased a two-run Seattle lead with back-to-back homers to left in the bottom of the second inning off Hisashi Iwakuma.
So, it’s now a 4-2 Indians lead.
The Indians got a one-out double by Carlos Santana, then a walk to Michael Brantley before Raburn unloaded to left to give Cleveland the lead. Gomes then followed with a towering shot to left on an 0-2 pitch marking the second straight game in which Iwakuma has yielded two homers. He’d given up just one in his prior five outings combined.
The Mariners had entered the day 1-for-23 (.045) with runners in scoring position this series. But they doubled their hit total in that regard in the first inning when Kendrys Morales doubled to left to bring in Jason Bay from second base and then Michael Morse followed with a single to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead.
8:55 a.m.: Hisashi Iwakuma will try to snap this skid of three straight losses by the Mariners, taking the AL’s best ERA (2.24) among starters since last year’s All-Star Break into today’s contest.
Iwakuma has started to go seven innings more frequently as he moves beyond the blister issue that plagued him throughout April. He still has to monitor the blister, which is why we’ve yet to see him go eight or nine innings like the aces on some other teams. If he can do that, he’ll start seeing his name mentioned right up there with some of the game’s best.