Cleveland Indians (97-58 SU, 78-77 RL, 59-86-10 O/U) vs. Seattle Mariners (75-80 SU, 67-88 RL, 73-77-5 O/U)
MLB: Sunday, September 24, 2017 at 4:10 p.m. EST
The Line: Cleveland Indians -225/Seattle Mariners +185. Total: 7.5.
The Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians will wrap up a three-game series when they meet again at Safeco Field in Seattle on Sunday afternoon. Cleveland bounced back from a rare loss on Friday by dominating Saturday’s contest. The Mariners are 1-7 in their last 11 outings.
AL Central champs
The Indians suffered a road loss on Friday when their offense uncharacteristically struggled, but such blips have been few and far between over the last month for the American League’s top team. They now look to win a ninth straight series and improve to 29-2 over their last 31 contests. Cleveland managed only three hits in a 3-1 setback in the series opener, but a combination of shoddy defense by the Mariners and powerful offense kept the AL Central champions from losing back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 22-23 in Saturday’s 11-4 rout. Yan Gomes homered in the eighth inning and capped off a five-run ninth with a three-run shot, helping the Indians maintain a 1.5-game advantage over Houston for the best record in the AL.
Right-hander Corey Kluber (17-4, 2.35 ERA) is taking the mound for Cleveland on Sunday. Kluber strengthened his case for a second Cy Young Award with another dominant effort against Kansas City last Sunday, allowing only three singles while striking out nine in seven frames to earn his fifth win in as many starts. The two-time all-star is 10-1 with a 1.92 ERA in 13 second-half outings and carries a 22-inning scoreless streak into the series finale.
Not even Cruz can save them
Despite Nelson Cruz homering for the fourth time in as many games on Saturday, the Mariners tied a season high with five errors and lost for the seventh time in eight tries to drop six games behind Minnesota for the final wild-card slot. Cruz has hit safely in 22 of his last 23 at Safeco Field and is batting .300 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in 78 home contests this season.
“It was about catching the baseball and doing things right, fundamentally,” manager Scott Servais explained. “We’ve struggled with that, and it’s an area that needs to be addressed here as we go forward…. Every out is so crucial in this game, and if you don’t get them, you pay the price.”
Mike Leake (10-12, 3.91 ERA) will oppose Kluber on Sunday. The right-hander continued his resurgence since joining Seattle at the end of August despite not factoring into the decision versus Texas on Tuesday, allowing only one run on six hits over 6.2 innings. Leaker is 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in four trips to the mound with the Mariners after going 7-12 with a 4.21 ERA with St. Louis.
The Cleveland Indians are:
- 48-13 in their last 61 overall
- 35-16 in their last 51 road games
- 36-16 in their last 52 games against the American League West
The Seattle Mariners are:
- 1-7 in their last eight overall
- 1-5 in their last six home games
- 2-8 in their last 10 games against starters with WHIPs less than 1.15
Cleveland designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who did not play on Saturday, needs to drive in two more runs to become the fifth player in team history with 100 RBIs and 100 walks in the same season. Encarnacion and many of his teammates have been outstanding in September, and the Indians’ combination of hitting and pitching has been devastating for opponents. Kluber, who is 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners.Cleveland is 48-13 in its last 61 overall, 35-16 in its last 51 on the road, 12-1 in its last 13 on the road against opponents with winning home records, 36-16 in its last 52 against the American League West, and 45-12 in its last 56 on grass, and 6-0 in Kluber’s last six road starts. The Mariners are 1-7 in their last eight overall, 1-5 in their last six at home, 1-7 in their last eight against opponents with winning percentages over .600, 2-8 in their last 10 against starters with WHIPs less than 1.15, and 1-7 in their last eight on grass. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.