Pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin grounded a run-scoring single into right field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Cleveland Indians a 2-1 victory against the Mariners on Friday night, sending Seattle to its fifth consecutive defeat.
With the score tied at 1-1, Francisco Lindor led off the bottom of the ninth by walking on four pitches from Mariners right-hander Anthony Swarzak (2-1). Leonys Martin hit a slow roller to second baseman Dee Gordon that turned into a fielder’s choice, with Lindor out at second. Jose Ramirez was caught looking at a called third strike before. Carlos Santana walked, moving Martin to second. After a conference on the mound, Naquin swung at the first pitch he saw from Swarzak and grounded it out of the reach of Gordon, allowing Martin to score easily.
Indians left-hander Brad Hand (1-1) pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the victory.
Mariners left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who worked just one inning his last time out in an effort to reduce his workload in his first season in the major leagues after starring in Japan, responded with his best outing for Seattle thus far. Kikuchi allowed one run on three hits in seven innings, with one walk and career-high 10 strikeouts.
Indians right-hander Shane Bieber allowed one run on six hits in 7 2/3 innings, with one walk and eight strikeouts.
The Mariners opened the scoring with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, as Jay Bruce lined a 1-1 pitch from Bieber over the wall in right field for his team-leading 10th home run of the season.
The Indians tied it in the bottom of the fourth and it stayed that way until the ninth.
The M’s have been quite streaky this season. Through 34 games, they’ve already had winning streaks of two, three (twice), four and six games and losing streaks of three, five and six games. … Kikuchi became the 15th Japanese-born pitcher to strike out 10 or more batters in a major-league game.
By the numbers
0-4: Mariners’ record this season following a day off.
Our take from Right Field
Well, at least the M’s didn’t get blown out. When you put a reliever into the game with a tie score in the ninth inning, you expect him to find the strike zone. But only eight of Swarzak’s 18 pitches were strikes and he walked two batters, including the leadoff man on four pitches.
The teams continue the three-game series at 1:10 p.m. Saturday at Progressive Field. RHP Mike Leake (2-2, 4.98 ERA) is scheduled to face Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco (2-3, 5.86). Carrasco pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out 12, in a 1-0 victory at Seattle on April 17.