SEATTLE: It’s never a good combination to employ a skittish defense behind a rusty pitcher making his first start in a month and half following a disabled list stint.
But that was the reality facing the struggling Indians Tuesday in Seattle in the second game of this three-game series at Safeco Field, one that resulted in an ugly 4-3 defeat that all but gift-wrapped the Mariners season-high eighth consecutive win.
Although the Indians professed to being thrilled to welcome back young right-hander Zach McAllister (who’d hadn’t pitched since June 2nd while recovering from a sprained right middle finger), they sure didn’t act like like it.
A trio of errors in the first two innings could easily have been four without one curious scoring decision – a tough stretch of defense that included a fielding and throwing miscue by third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (giving him four errors in the first five games of this road trip) – got McAllister off to a rough start from the get go.
Despite escaping the first two forgettable frames with a 3-1 advantage thanks to Yan Gomes’ two-out, two-run home run in the second, McAllister went ahead and threw gasoline on the heaping mess in the third.
The Mariners lengthy three-run third inning consisted of five hits – incluing three doubles and a run-scoring wild pitch – before McAllsiter was finally able to retire to the dugout. After three innings, he’d already thrown 77 pitches. Yet somehow, trailed just 4-3.
After the shaky start, McAllister battled to keep the Indians in the game for two more innings, making it through five on a night where he nearly didn’t escape the third inning. In the end, his line for the night wasn’t much different than Mariner’s starter Erasmo Ramirez - save for taking a loss to his opponent’s win.
McAllister allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks and struck out five. Ramirez lasted just 2/3 of inning longer, giving up three runs on a similar eight hits and two walks, striking out four after allowing the Tribe to take the first lead on back-to-back two-out hits by Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera.
But all the early action settled down with each team’s bullpen in play. Yoernis Medina took over for Ramirez and tossed 2 1/3 scoreless frames, while Matt Albers took over for McAllister and promptly quieted the Mariners bats for two innings to keep the deficit at one run heading into the eighth inning.
Indians reliever Cody Allen chipped in a hitless bottom of the eighth inning before the Mariners sent closer Tom Wilhelmsen out to the mound looking for his second save in as many days/
The Indians at least made it interesting and then fittingly bizarre. First baeman Mark Reynolds led off the ninth inning with a single and Chisnehall followed with a single that allowed Reynolds to advance two bases to third.
But just as quickly as the Tribe put runners on the corners with no outs, Gomes hit into a strange double play that forced pinch runner Mike Aviles at second base, followed by pinch runner Drew Stubbs getting caught in a run down between third and home plate to complete the standard 5-4-2-6 double play.
Michael Bourn thought he’d worked a full count walk to keep the Indians hopes alive, but was instead rung up by home plate umpire in a dramatic fashion.