Pregame: Mariners wrap the homestand at 1:10 today against Cleveland. Jeanmar Gomez (3-2, 3:08) will oppose Felix Hernandex (10-10, 2.38).
The main pregame news is the continued unavailability of Franklin Gutierrez, who is out with “under the weather.”
“We’ll give him the day off,” manager Daren Brown just said. “Last night, he didn’t feel good the whole night. He does feel a little better today. I did ask if he’d be available to pinch hit later in the game. He told me he does feel a lot better today and that would be a possibility. Hopefully we’ll give him the full day today, that would be a couple of days and be ready to go tomorrow.”
Given that, here’s the lineup Brown settled on:
1st pitch: 1:10 p.m., 60 degrees and mostly cloudy.
1st inning: Hernandez sets down the Indians, 1-2-3, although with a couple of line drives in there. In the bottom half, Ichiro singled and stole second, but was stranded there was Figgins, Branyan and Lopez went down in order.
2nd inning: Felix strikes out the side. Then the Mariners moved ahead 1-0 on singles by Kotchman and Moore, before Kotchman scored on a fielders-choice (very nearly double play) by Saunders.
3rd inning: After retiring the first seven, Hernandez allows a single to Valbuena. Then an error by Figgins got runners to first and second, but Hernandez struck out Cabrera to end it. Things improved for Figgins in the bottom half — but only briefly. He singled, stole second, and then before the next pitch was even thrown bolted for third and was called out. 1-0 after three.
4th inning: Three up, three down for Felix, including two more strikeouts … giving him seven for the game. Then the M’s went 1-2-3, including a Langerhans K.
5th inning: Nice defensive play by Lopez to his left at third. A walk by Hernandez, but that was it, and he’s got a one-hitter through five. In the bottom half, Ichiro got on on a disputed infield single. The dispute was by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who went to his left and throught he a force-out at second, but was ruled (apparently incorrectly) to have either missed the bag or to have touched it before he had control of the ball. In any case, he protested and then manager Manny Acta took over and was tossed. In any case, the Mariners — you might want to sit down for this news — didn’t take advantage. However, Ichiro has two hits on the day.
6th inning: Hernandez survives first real threat with shutout intact. Leadoff man Michael Brantley singled, was bunted over to second and moved to third on a ground out. That brought cleanup man Travis Hafner to the plate with two out and the trying run 90 feet away. Hernandez struck him out. Then Russell Branyan opened the bottom half with a home run to right, and the M’s are up, 2-0.
7th inning: Felix wiggles out of a modest jam again. This time, the first two Indians reached base — hit batter and single — but Fernandez retired the next three, including ending the half inning striking out Gimenez before heading on to “Louie, Louie” time. In the bottom half, pitching change: Justin Germano in, and holds M’s scoreless.
8th inning: Two runners got on again, but Hafner smacked a line drive at Figgens, which turned into a double play, and Hernandez is three outs away from his 11th win. In bottom half, Cleveland brings in Frank Herrmann, who gave up another run. Figgins, who got on by error, was brought home by Branyan, who sent one to the bottom of the left-center wall. Mariners up, 3-0.
9th inning: It goes final with no suspense. M’s win, 3-0. Hernandez gets his 11th win, Aardsma his 28th save. Hernandez threw 111 pitches, allowing four hits and one walk with nine strikeouts.
Postgame: A few notes: The win over Cleveland marked the Mariners’ 10th shutout of the season. … With Russell Branyon’s home run in the sixth he has reached base in all seven games he has played against Cleveland this season. … Casey Kotchman’s single in the second extended his hitting streak to a season-high six games. … David Aardsma’s scoreless ninth dropped his ERA to 0.95 since July 11, and gave him his 12th save in 16 appearances over that period.
… The Mariners now depart for their second-to-last road trip of the season, which will take them to Oakland and Anaheim, Calif. Monday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. Jason Vargas (9-8, 3.55) will oppose Oakland left-hander Brett Anderson (3-6, 3.17).
A few quotes from the clubhouses:
Manager DAREN BROWN
Overview on Hernandez: “He was outstanding again,” manager Daren Brown said of his ace. “Eight innings. He had a couple of innings he got into a little bit of trouble. But as I’ve said before, he seems to turn it up a notch when he’s got runners on base. Outstanding job tonight.”
On the offense (which was held to fewer than four runs for the 10th straight game) “Branyan had a couple of big hits for us. The key thing tonight was scoring early and then being able to tack on a couple of runs late. … I thought we swung the bats. As a whole I thought we’ve swung the bats pretty well the past couple of days. They got a couple of big hits.”
On what was working: “Everything. (I got) ahead of hitters, used my whole pitches. … I was working on both sides of the plate. My fastball was pretty good. My other pitches were good, too.”
On being taken out after 111 pitched:
“I want to finish again. But now they don’t want to let me. Aardsma is our closer, and he did a good job.”
Cleveland manager MANNY ACTA
“Felix was just way too much for us. We are not a very good matchup with him. We are second in the league in strikeouts, and he is on top of the league in strikeouts. He was tough, typical Felix.”
Hernandez was asked what pitches were working.”