SEATTLE: Channeling his inner Al Davis, Indians manager Terry Francona had only one wish for his beleaguered team entering Wednesday’s game at Safeco Field: Just win, baby.
Didn’t matter to the veteran skipper how his stumbling club did it, just that somehow, the Tribe escaped from Safeco Field with a “W” in hand. That way, they could enjoy the long plane ride home to Northeast Ohio, followed by a much-needed off-day Thursday before opening a seven-game homestand Friday at Progressive Field.
But the Indians did more than hand their veteran skipper a soul-soothing victory that snapped the Mariners eight-game winning streak.
Veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir limited Seattle batters to an unearned run on one hit over eight dominating innings and the Tribe’s offense came alive with 13 hits that included Michael Bourn’s first career grand slam in a 10-1 victory.
The win not only overshadowed another pair of errors, but as Francona hoped, could go a long way in helping the Indians shake off a tough 2-4 start to the second half of the season.
The Mariners lone hit against Kazmir came in the form of first baseman Justin Smoak’s leadoff single in the fifth inning. But it did little harm as Kazmir cruised, issuing just two walks and striking out seven.
Kazmir, who had never allowed just one hit over eight innings in his 12-year career, now boasts a nifty 1.60 ERA over his last seven starts.
Before Kazmir even started dealing, the Indians offense handed him an early 3-0 lead in the first inning against Mariners' starter Joe Saunders on back-to-back doubles by Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana.
Bourn led off the game by beating out an infield bunt and Nick Swisher followed with a walk. Jason Kipnis sacrificed the pair over and Cabrera and Santana delivered the big blows that once again put the Tribe on the board first.
But getting out to a quick lead had meant little on this frustrating road trip. The Tribe had gotten on the board first in each game, but still entered Wednesday with just one win to show for swinging the bats early.
But this time the offense kept the pressure on the struggling Saunders, a lefty who dished up six runs (five earned) on nine hits and five walks in just 4 2/3 innings.
And while the error fest that had been on display throughout the road trip reared its ugly head again, this time the only damage they did was keep Kazmir from exacting a shutout.
A bad throw by shortstop Cabrera on an attempted force play at second base led to Seattle’s lone run in the second inning, trimming the Tribe’s lead to 3-1. The two-out error was the Tribe’s eighth in six games and snapped Cabrera’s 52-game errorless streak.
But the Mariners quickly returned the favor in the top of the third inning when centerfielder Michael Saunders misplayed a ball that allowed Cabrera to reach second on what otherwise would have been an out. Santana followed with his second RBI double of the game to push the vistor’s lead back to three runs, 4-1.
Then Bourn put the game out of reach in the fifth against Mariners reliever Hector Noesi, launching first career grand slam that widened the gap to 8-1.
For safe measure, the Indians tacked on two additional runs via a solo homer by Cabrera in the sixth inning and and a run scored on a Mark Reynold’s bases-loaded groundout in the ninth inning.