Final: Cleveland wins it, 9-8. The Mariners got the tying run to third with one out and had the bases loaded with two outs. But John Jaso flied out to right to end it.
Some reaction from manager Eric Wedge:
On the up and down nature of the game: “(Smoak) was real good today. It’s some hit and miss right now. But … everybody is on their own program working to get better. We’re pushing in that direction.”
On starter Kevin Millwood: “We talked about it before, he is one of the best I’ve seen in regard to controlling damage, but today he just wasn’t able to get through it. I thought he was throwing the ball well, particularly the three previous innings. But he was just up a little bit, missing some spots that last inning. He just wasn’t able to get it done.”
On the Mariners’ scoreless five innings after their six-run fourth: “I felt like we still put up some decent at bats. We had some opportunities; we just didn’t really take advantage of them. I liked the way we pressed at the end. … We were in position to at least tie the game, if not more than that.”
Eighth: No runs either way. It’s Cleveland, 9-8, heading into the ninth.
Seventh: Cleveland takes a 9-8 lead with an inning of small ball. Travis Hafner singled. Shelley Duncan walked. And then a Jason Donald single against Tom Wilhelmsen brough Hafner home.
Sixth: Fourth hit (all singles) of the game for Justin Smoak, a career high. Still 8-8.
End of five: Cleveland answers with a six-run inning of its own, chasing Millwood. And no outs yet. Ramirez in to pitch. And now Furbush. It ends up as a seven-run inning, evening things at 8-8.
Bottom of fourth: Three-up, three down for Indians. Duncan singles, but line drive to Smoak results in unassisted double play. Mariners bat around in the bottom of the inning, including their 50,000th hit in club history and their 25,000th run. They chase Masterson. Nick Hagadone now pitching. Six runs in all. Mariners, 8-1.
Through three: Smoak makes all three put outs unassisted in the top. (Along with a Shin-Soo Choo single.) In the bottom, Jaso smacks a two-run homer way over the right-field wall. Estimated 385 feet. (I have a little from Wedge explaining the Jaso start farther down this post.) Seattle, 2-1. (And I missed the hat trick, which seems especially tough this season.)
After two: Millwood retires the Indians’ 7-8-9 hitters in order. Smoak gets the first Mariners hit — a single to left. But Seager hit into a double play, and Montero broke his bat with a weak infield grounder. Cleveland, 1-0.
After one: Cleveland jumps ahead with two hits and a walk. The run comes in on a two-out single by Travis Haffner. Mariners go down 1-2-3. Indians, 1-0.
Play ball: Kevin Millwood launched the first pitch at 7:10, and we’re under way. Fifty degrees, wind calm, roof closed. Extreeeeeemely small crowd on hand.
5:10 p.m. Gates have just opened. Roof is still closed.
Lineups: Mariners: 7 Figgins, 4 Ackley, 9 Ichiro, 3 Smoak, 5 Seager, 2 Montero, 8 Sounders, 6 Ryan, dh Jaso. Pitching Millwood (0-0, 1.50)
For Cleveland: 8 Brantley, 4 Kipnis, 9 Choo, 2 Santana, dh Hafner, 7 Duncan, 3 Kotchman, 5 Hannahan, 6, Donald. Pitching: Masterson. (0-1, 2.77)
Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo and his .111 batting average are on the bench tonight as Seattle continued its nine-game homestand against Cleveland.
Jesus Montero starts behind the plate, and catcher John Jaso serves as designated hitter.
However, manager Eric Wedge did not attribute Olivo’s absence to his average, .139 slugging percentage, nor .135 on-base percentage through 10 games and 36 at bats.
“More about getting Jaso in there, and getting Montero back behind the plate again,” Wedge said. “(Olivo) has played every game except for one, so it’s a good time to get him a day off, coupled with (the Monday) off day.”
It marks only the second appearance for Jaso, a career .245 hitter who was acquired from Tampa Bay in November.
Wedge was asked how Jaso has been spending the rest of his time.
“The bullpens, for sure,” he said. “Obviously he’s involved in all the meetings. His pregame work – as with anybody who’s not playing every day – it becomes a lot more than for a starting player. But when he’s in there like he is today, you back off of that a little bit and prepare to play. But when he’s not in there – whether it be him or (infielders Munenori) Kawasaki or (Alex) Liddi or anybody else who’s not playing ever day – you’ve got to do a little bit more.”
And what can Jaso bring to the lineup?
“He’s a tough out,” Wedge said. “He’s always been a guy who gets on base. He sees some pitches, usually; but he’s not afraid to go up there and get after it too, depending on the situation.”
Pregame: It’s 3 p.m. and a dozen or so Mariners are on the diamond beginning early preparations for their 7:05 p.m. game with the Cleveland Indians.
There’s a light drizzle in downtown Seattle, and the roof is closed. (For a look at a nice John McGrath column on Safeco Field, click here.)
We’ll be keeping this post open all evening for game reports and whatever news breaks along the way.
I’ll be back with lineups and highlights from Eric Wedge’s meeting with the media.