Behind a standout performance from starting pitcher Corey Kluber, an unconventional mid-game double play and timely hitting from the heart of the order, the Cleveland Indians earned a 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle Sunday.
With the win over the Mariners (75-81), the Indians (98-58) broke the franchise record for the most road victories in a single season, 53, and are 40 games over the .500 mark for the first time since the end of the 1995 season, when they finished 100-44 in a year shortened by a work stoppage.
Over seven innings of work against the Mariners, Kluber scattered six hits, two walks and two unearned runs. For the 15th time this season, Kluber registered 10 strikeouts. Kluber is 9-2 with four no-decisions in his 15 10-strikeout performances this season.
Cleveland Indians face Seattle Mariners in final road game of 2017 regular season
Including Sunday’s victory over the Mariners, Kluber has won seven straight games and nine of his last 10 outings. Kluber is 3-1 over four starts against Seattle, and has registered 35 strikeouts against only six walks allowed in 30 innings of work in those outings.
In the series finale, the Indians broke the scoreless tie with a two-run rally in the top of the fourth inning.
Second baseman Jose Ramirez led off the frame with a single to center field, and then, after he stole second, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion drove him in with a double to the wall in deep left field, and his 99th RBI of the season gave the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Following a strikeout from outfielder Jay Bruce, center fielder Jason Kipnis hit a double to the wall in deep right field, which brought around Encarnacion for Cleveland’s second run of the game.
The Indians’ advantage lasted just one inning, as the Mariners drew even at 2-2 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning off of Kluber.
On base after hitting into a fielder’s choice that erased catcher Mike Zunino, who reached on an error to start the inning, center fielder Guillermo Heredia came in to score when left fielder Ben Gamel belted the first pitch he saw from Kluber over the wall in center field for a two-run home run, his 11th round-tripper of the season.
Seattle’s offensive output stopped Kluber’s streak of 26.2 consecutive scoreless innings, a stretch that started in his September 7 outing against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on the south side of Chicago.
The Indians went back in front when Ramirez smashed an 82-mile-per-hour change-up from Mariners starter Mike Leake over the wall in center field for his 29th homer and 86th extra-base hit of the season.
The Indians tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning when Kipnis drove in Encarnacion with a sacrifice fly to center field. Encarnacion was on with a lead-off double to the wall in center field off of Mariners reliever Shae Simmons and moved over to third base on Bruce’s single to right field.
Defensively, the Indians turned a 7-6-3 double play in the bottom of the fourth inning when first baseman Yonder Alonso flew out to left fielder Austin Jackson.
On a full sprint toward the warning track, Jackson tracked down the one-handed catch and fired a throw to shortstop Francisco Lindor. Then, Lindor relayed a throw of his own down to Encarnacion at first to double off third baseman Kyle Seager, who followed a double from Nelson Cruz with a walk earlier in the frame.
Following Monday’s off day, the Indians return to Progressive Field for a six-game homestand to close out the regular season, including three-game series against two AL Central Division foes in the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox.