The Seattle Mariners hope their ace Felix Hernandez can help them cool off the red-hot Cleveland Indians on Sunday in the third chapter of a four game series at Progressive Field.
The Indians squandered a four-run lead on Saturday, but rebounded to beat the Mariners in walk-off fashion for the second straight day. Jason Kipnis, who crushed the game-winning, three-run homer in the 10th inning of Friday's series opener, singled and Asdrubal Cabrera doubled before an intentional walk to Nick Swisher loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Kipnis then scored the game-winning run on Mark Reynolds' fielder's choice, as catcher Jesus Montero didn't have his foot on the plate after an on-time throw from Brendan Ryan.
The visitors showed some life offensively late in Saturday's game prior to Kipnis's game-winning run. Following a two-run shot by Ryan in the eighth, Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak homered in the top of the ninth to tie it up at four. It was the sixth time in seven games that Ibanez has homered. Ryan extended his hitting streak to a season-high five games and has raised his batting average from .122 to .178 during that stretch.
"It felt good to tie it up," Smoak said. "We'd been battling all day. Raul kept doing what he's been doing, and I was trying to do anything I could to get on base right there. I got one pretty good."
Joe Saunders continued to struggle away from home for Seattle and surrendered four runs on 11 hits on 5 1/3 innings.
Hernandez returns to the hill for the Mariners after leading his last start after six innings due to tightness in his back. The three-time All Star enters at 5-2 with a 1.53 ERA on the season, but he is just 3-4 with a 4.02 ERA in eight career starts at Progressive Field.
The Indians will counter King Felix with Justin Masterson, who has won two straight decisions. The 28-year old right-hander pitched a shutout versus the Yankees on Monday to improve to 6-2 on the year.
"Masty went out and did exactly what you want your ace to do," Indians manager Terry Francona said following Monday's victory. "From the very first pitch of the game, he had power, he had breaking ball, he attacked hitters. There was no wiggle room because we had one run, and he made it stand."
Cleveland is hoping to collect its 17th win in 21 games. Reynolds went 2-for-5 in the win after managing only three hits over his previous eight games.
Michael Bourn is 5-for-10 with an RBI, two stolen bases and a run scored so far in the series. Kipnis is locked in for Cleveland as well. The Tribe's second baseman is 7-for-13 with a pair of doubles, two home runs, seven RBI and a stolen base over his past three games.
The Mariners have lost four straight games in Cleveland. This is the first series of the season between these two teams. They split eight meetings in 2012.
The Sports Network