Starting pitcher Scott Kazmir #26 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on July 24, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
by Trevor Williams
SAFECO FIELD - The Mariners’ bid to match a decade-old record fell short on Wednesday.
The M’s were going for their first nine-game win streak since 2003 and third consecutive series sweep but the Cleveland Indians had other ideas.
The Indians jumped all over Joe Saunders in the first inning by scoring three runs on two doubles. Scott Kazmir took over and performed brilliantly for the Indians. Kazmir allowed just one unearned run on one hit over eight innings of work to shut down the Mariners offense.
“He looked like the old Scott Kazmir. He had great location and command on his fastball," acting manager Robby Thompson said. "That made his secondary stuff even better. Our hitters got behind in the count a little bit and that was because of him. He pretty much took control of the game right from the git-go."
Saunders felt like he had his command during the game but the Indians managed to score six runs on nine hits off the Mariners starter.
“This game was tough. They put some good swings on some good pitches and I tried to keep the team in there as long as I could. It was just one of those days where it wasn’t our day,” Saunders said.
The Indians did suffer some defensive set backs on Wednesday to go along with their base running blunder on Tuesday, however, with the Indians offensive production, the Mariners needed a monumental collapse to have any hope of extending a season-best eight-game winning streak.
All hopes for the Mariners were erased in the fifth inning when Michael Bourn connected on a 3-2 pitch from Hector Noesi. Bourn sent the 3-2 fastball into the right center field tunnel for his first career grand slam and an 8-1 Indians lead.
Troubles for Noesi
Hector Noesi entered the game in the fifth to relieve Saunders. He walked Drew Stubbs with two outs to load the bases, which also set up Bourn’s home run. Noesi was hit hard again in the sixth inning when Asdrubal Cabrera sent a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right field to go along with his first inning 2-RBI double.
The Mariners lone run came in the second inning, when Jason Bay scored on an error by Cabrera, on a two-out ground ball from Michael Saunders.
Kazmir responded quickly for Cleveland and picked up the defense behind him when he got Endy Chavez to ground into a first-pitch out.
Justin Smoak played villain on Wednesday by erasing Kazmir’s no-hitter to lead off the Mariners half of the fifth inning. It was the only hit allowed by Kazmir in eight innings of work.
Cleveland cashed-in for one more run in the ninth inning off of Lucas Luetge on a sacrifice 6-4-3 double play that scored Cabrera. The run scored was Cabrera’s fourth of the game.
The Mariners attempted to put together some offense in the ninth inning but left the bases loaded following a single and two walks. Vinnie Pestano got out of the jam for the Indians.
Update on Manager Eric Wedge
Following the game, the Mariners also released a statement on the condition of Eric Wedge.
"We are happy to announce that Eric Wedge has been released from the hospital today. He is home with his family resting and feeling well. After much testing the doctors believe he suffered a very mild stroke.
"The doctors expect that he will have a full and complete recovery. Eric will not be in uniform for the Minnesota series, and will miss the upcoming road trip to Boston and Baltimore.
"He is looking forward to being back with the team in the near future and will be available for questions at that time."
Following the game, Mariners players were visibly shaken by the update on Wedge and shared their thoughts.
SS Brendan Ryan - “He’s a tough guy. You don’t want anyone to hurry with anything like that. He’ll come back in his own time. We’ll be thinking of him and he’ll be with us. The sooner he gets back, the better, but we just wish him the best.”
Robby Thompson - “I take a deep breath because of my concern and all for Eric. That’s where the deep breath comes from. We will continue focusing on our job as a staff and their job in that clubhouse as players. They’ll bounce back, think about it tonight, say their prayers and we’ll throw this [game] out the window and hopefully start [a new streak] again tomorrow.”
Turning Point: Michael Bourn launched a three-one pitch from Hector Noesi over the right field fence for his first career grand slam in the fifth inning. The four-run jolt from Bourn put the Indians ahead 8-1 and effectively shut the door on the Mariners.
Player Of The Game: Scott Kazmir. As Manager Robby Thompson said, this looked like the old Scott Kazmir. He had great command of the fastball and used his complimentary pitches efficiently to get ahead of Mariners hitters. Batters were left shaking their heads at the end of the day. Attribute that to the dominate performance by the veteran.
CLE: S. Kazmir (8IP, 1R, 0 ER, 1H, 7K), M. Bourn (2-4, 2R, HR, 4RBI), C. Santana (3-5, 2 2B, 2RBI), A. Cabrera (2-4, 4R, 2B, HR, 3RBI, BB), Y. Gomes (2-4, R, BB).
SEA: J. Saunders (4.2IP, 6R, 5ER, 9H, 5K, 3BB), J. Smoak (1-3, BB).
Next Up: The Mariners look to start a new winning streak Thursday night when they welcome the Minnesota Twins to town. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (9-4, 2.99 ERA) takes the mound for the Mariners. He'll face Twins RHP Kevin Correia (7-6, 4.17 ERA). First pitch is at 7:10 p.m.