For a while, things were going fairly well for the Indians. Ubaldo Jimenez was throwing a pretty good game, the offense was taking advantage of its few opportunities, and the Indians were actually in a ballgame for the first time in what seems like an eternity. Alas, it was not to be as Seattle scored all five of their runs on home runs and their bullpen outpitched the Indians in a 5-3 series opening win.
The game started out about as promising as it could. Jason Kipnis snapped a two-month homerless drought by leading off the game with a solo shot off the foul pole down the right field line. It was Kipnis's first home run since June 17. After that, Asdrubal Cabrera laid down a bunt single to keep the pressure on Kevin Millwood. But, Shin-Soo Choo hit into a double play and effectively snuffed out the threat.
The Indians led until the third when Ubaldo Jimenez gave up a two-out single to Dustin Ackley and then was taken deep by Michael Saunders. The two-run blast to left center was Saunders's 12th home run of the season and just his fourth at home. Jimenez got into more trouble with a hit by pitch, a stolen base, and a walk, but he struck out Justin Smoak to end the inning.
To the Tribe's credit, they battled back before the game was out of reach this time. In the fifth inning, Casey Kotchman drew a one-out walk and went to second on an Ezequiel Carrera bunt single. After Jason Donald lined out, Kipnis, with a little pressure off, singled to left on a full count to drive in Kotchman. After the Kipnis knock, Cabrera roped a single to center field to drive Carrera in and put the Indians back on top 3-2. Unlike many of the instances during this stretch of 18 losses in 22 games, the starting pitcher held some momentum for the Tribe.
Jimenez retired the side in the fifth and got the Indians right back to the plate, but they couldn't piece anything together. In the sixth, Jimenez gave up a solo shot to Eric Thames with two outs to tie the game. After Miguel Olivo extended the inning with a single, Manny Acta went to the bullpen. Joe Smith came in and got a first pitch line out to left from Trayvon Robinson. Jimenez threw the ball well and had swing-and-miss stuff, but, he continued to make mistakes in the middle of the plate that left the yard. He struck out eight over 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on six hits.
The Indians offense couldn't manage anything remotely resembling a rally in the seventh or eighth. Michael Saunders struck again in the seventh, this time off left hander Tony Sipp. His second two-run blast of the game put the Mariners ahead 5-3 and they coasted to a victory by that same score.
In the ninth, against Tom Wilhelmsen, the Indians put together a valiant effort. Kotchman singled up the middle with one out and Carrera hit a shattered-bat double off the base of the right field wall to put runners at second and third. Jack Hannahan pinch hit for Jason Donald and walked to load the bases. Kipnis walked to the plate with the chance to be a hero and hit into a double play to end the game.
With the loss, the Indians, who have been falling since July 30, still haven't hit the bottom of the canyon and are now 54-68. The Mariners are just five games below .500. Joe Smith took the loss, falling to 7-4. The win went to Charlie Furbush who improved to 5-2. The Indians have lost six in a row.
Stat of the Night: Now at 4-15 for the month, the Indians are on pace for their worst month since April 1969 when the team went 2-15 to begin the season.
Player of the Game: Jason Kipnis. He finally broke the homer drought and added a solid opposite field RBI single.
Tomorrow's Game: The series continues in Seattle as two Hernandezes will do battle. Roberto will face Felix at 10:10 p.m.