SEATTLE: On a night when things that rarely happen did, the Indians found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-2 score against the Seattle Mariners Friday in Safeco Field.
The Mariners’ Endy Chavez ended a string of 265 plate appearances without a home run, the Indians’ Nick Swisher was thrown out at third base trying to advance on a ball booted by the first baseman and Tribe left fielder Michael Brantley turned a one-handed catch into a sharp double play.
Designated hitter Chavez hit his first home run of the season, to right field, in the bottom of the seventh inning, breaking a drought that dated back to May 30, 2013. His solo shot gave the Mariners a 3-1 lead.
“(I wanted to) throw a cutter inside and it was down and out of the zone,” said Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer (2-4, 4.39). “That’s not a guy I’m really expecting to do much damage, shoot, that was his first home run this year. I don’t know, it seems to happen to me a lot.”
In the top of the seventh with one out and the Tribe trailing by a run, Swisher thought Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison would make the play on a grounder off the bat of Michael Bourn. Feeling like he could run normally for the first time since he returned from the disabled list June 12 with a hyperextended left knee, Swisher attempted to go from second to third on the play. Morrison booted the ball, but recovered and threw to third to nab a sliding Swisher.
Swisher hadn’t had much experience running the bases of late. His first walk of the month and a ninth-inning single that led to a run left him batting .143 (6 for 42) in June.
“I guess I just kind of assumed he was going to make that play instead of thinking maybe Bourn beats that out,” Swisher said of Morrison. “He booted it and kicked it right towards third base.”
Swisher said he didn’t have time to look to third base coach Mike Sarbaugh for direction. Asked if he should have stayed at second, Swisher said, “If you want to look back on it, sure. That’s an aggressive mistake, I guess. I’m running on the play. Never in a million years did I think he was going to be coming to third base with that ball. After watching the replay, he booted it, then kicked it, then (threw it) right there at third base.”
Brantley recorded his ninth outfield assist, second in the major leagues, in spectacular fashion with an unusual play in the fourth inning. With the score tied 1-1, Brantley leaped and made a twisting, one-handed catch with his right hand to rob Mike Zunino of a hit. His relay throw to Asdrubal Cabrera turned into a 7-6-3 double play. Before the inning ended, the Mariners retook the lead when Michael Saunders singled to left, went to second on a Bauer wild pitch and scored on Brad Miller’s single to center.
“That’s a game-changer right there, gives us a chance,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Brantley's double-play catch. “We weren’t scoring, but we kept it where we get to the ninth with a chance to win. Brantley does it all the time.”
Bauer appreciated Brantley’s effort.
“He’s good out there. You almost start expecting him to make plays like that because he does it so often,” Bauer said. “I think it would be easy to overlook how difficult that play is and what a good play it was. It was a big play to keep us in it at that point.”
Swisher pointed out the relay throw by Cabrera that he thought was key.
“It’s crazy because I’ve been coming to the ballpark for 10 or 11 years and I’ve never seen the ball travel the way it is now,” Swisher said. “I didn’t think he hit it that deep, but obviously in a situation like that we’ve got Brantley out there, he’s leading the world in assists right now. Great throw to Cabby. I think more than anything Cabby, the relay throw where it was. ... Both those guys did a great job on that play. It was crucial at the time.”