CLEVELAND – The Indians needed something good to happen after watching their ace go down. Tyler Naquin came through for Cleveland.
Naquin’s pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth inning gave the Indians a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night. Naquin, batting for Jordan Luplow, grounded the first pitch from Anthony Swarzak through the right side, scoring Leonys Martin from second base.
Naquin was mobbed his teammates down the right-field line after Cleveland’s second walk-off win of the season.
The Indians needed a boost after placing pitcher Corey Kluber on the 10-day injured list before the game. Kluber broke his right arm when he was hit by a line drive Wednesday and is out indefinitely. The Indians said Kluber does not need surgery for now and will be re-examined in three to four weeks.
Manager Terry Francona met with the players following batting practice to remind them the best way to deal with adversity is to stay focused and approach things one day at a time.
“Everybody in the baseball world knows that ‘Klubes’ is the horse of the staff,” Naquin said. “A two-time Cy Young winner speaks for himself. He’ll be missed, but we have some guys step up and fill that role.”
Swarzak (2-1) walked Francisco Lindor on four pitches to start the ninth, snapping a streak of 13 straight batters retired by Seattle pitchers. Martin fouled off a bunt attempt on the first pitch before hitting a ground ball that forced Lindor. Jose Ramirez struck out, but Carlos Santana drew another four-pitch walk.
That set things up for Naquin, who used one of catcher Kevin Plawecki’s bats.
“It’s got his name on it,” Naquin said. “It reminds me of him when I walk up there, so that’s good. I’ve been using it for a week or so.”
Brad Hand (1-1) struck out two in the ninth to earn the win.
Rookie left-hander Yusei Kikuchi allowed one run and struck out a career-high 10 in seven innings. Kikuchi retired the final 10 hitters he faced, striking out six of the final seven.
“Yusei did a great job, the best we’ve seen since he’s been a Mariner,” manager Scott Servais said. “He continues to grow and I thought he was great tonight.”
“I was able to think one inning at a time,” Kikuchi said. “That was my philosophy, to zero in on each inning.”
The Mariners have lost five straight and are 5-14 since starting the season with a 13-2 record.
Indians starter Shane Bieber allowed one run – a one-out homer by Jay Bruce in the fourth – and struck out eight in a career-high 7 2/3 innings.
Kluber and Mike Clevinger (strained upper back muscle) are out of Cleveland’s rotation for the time being.
“If anything, you just want to step up a little bit more, but it doesn’t change your approach at all,” Bieber said.
Bruce’s 10th home run of the season came on a 1-1 pitch in the fourth, but the lead was brief. Martin broke a 0-for-21 slump with a leadoff double for Cleveland’s first hit. Ramirez singled and Martin scored on Santana’s double-play grounder.
Swarzak struggled with his command in the ninth, throwing only eight of his 18 pitches for strikes.