Covering the Bases: Game 9
Indians 9, Mariners 8
FIRST: The ball always seems to have a way of finding that one player who has been thrown into the lineup unexpectedly. On Tuesday night, that was Jason Donald, who got the nod at shortstop — and will continue to do so throughout this week — with Asdrubal Cabrera back home in Venezuela. Cabrera’s grandfather passed away and he is on MLB’s bereavement list for the time being. He might not be back with the team until its upcoming homestand.
Naturally, Donald was in the thick of things on Tuesday night. In the fifth inning, he singled to help ignite a seven-run rally. His sac fly in that frame knotted the score 8-8 (Cleveland had trailed 8-1). In the seventh, Donald delivered an RBI single that plated the Tribe’s go-ahead run, lining things up for the bullpen trio of Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez to handle the final three innings.
Of course, the ball found Donald at a critical time in the ninth. With a runner on first and one out, Jesus Montero sent a pitch from Perez sharply up the middle. It took a bad hop — to put it mildly — and struck Donald in the face. Instead of a game-ending double play, the M’s had men on the corners.
Nothing to worry about. Perez sidestepped that bit of drama and finished off the inning, escaping a bases-loaded jam with two outs to seal the win.
SECOND: Sure, there was some traffic on the basepaths, but the Indians’ bullpen played a crucial role in Tuesday’s win. Nick Hagadone (added to the roster to temporarily fill Cabrera’s spot), Rafael Perez, Smith, Pestanp and C.P. combined for 5 1/3 shutout innings. That helped give Cleveland’s offense time to mount a rally and was a welcomed sight after some relief woes of late. The bullpen and offense did well in overcoming a forgettable outing from Justin Masterson, who yielded eight runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
THIRD: And how about that offense? The Indians had already accomplished something no other team had done in its long history by scoring at least eight runs in each of their first three road games to open a series. To make the record that much more difficult to match, the Tribe upped that streak to four games with Tuesday’s comeback win. After hitting .176 in the first five home games, the Indians have hit .333 (53-159) with 11 doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 41 runs scored in the past four road games. That’s 10.3 (!) runs per game on the road.
HOME: Carlos Santana’s three-run home run in the fifth inning extended the Indians’ long-ball streak to nine straight games to open the season. That is tied for the second-longest such streak for the team dating back to 1918 (14 in 2002; 9 in 1997, 2006 and 2012). Cleveland’s 16 homers as a team through nine games is the third-highest total through the first nine games in team history. The record of 18 shots through the first nine games was set in 1959 and matched in 1997. The Indians also had 16 through their first nine contests in 1948.
Indians (5-4) at Mariners (6-6)
10:10 p.m. ET Friday at Safeco Field