Cleveland’s Carlos Santana ripped a bases-loaded, walk-off single off closer Brandon League in the bottom of the 11th, giving the Indians a 6-5 victory over the Mariners in a four-hour, seven-minute fiasco in which Seattle first blew a 4-0 lead and then a 5-4 advantage in extra innings. With the loss, their fourth straight, the Mariners (16-24) fell to 1-6 on their 10-game road trip.
The Mariners took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the 11th after Michael Saunders smoked a two-run double, scoring Dustin Ackley from first. But League walked on four pitches the leadoff hitter, former Mariner Jose Lopez, who in the eighth sent the game into extra innings with a three-run bomb off reliever Steve Delabar. Lopez advanced to second on League’s wild pitch.
League fanned another former Mariner, Shin-Soo Choo, but walked Jason Kipnis. Yet another former Mariner, Asdrubal Cabrera, drove in Lopez with a single. League walked pinch hitter Aaron Cunningham, setting up Santana’s game-winning hit. It marked League’s third loss of the year. He didn’t get a blown save because Delabar had already snatched that stat for himself earlier.
Joe Smith, the seventh Cleveland pitcher, was the winner.
Seattle had ample opportunities to put the game out of reach, but the Mariners went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position, stranded 11 and whiffed 14 times, including three each by Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi.
The Seattle bullpen delivered an equally lame effort. It gave up five earned runs, wasting the 4-0 Mariner lead Seattle took into the seventh, after starter Hector Noesi pitched his best game of the season, allowing one run on five hits over 6.1 innings.
Noesi came out shaky, survived the first, then walked two of the first three batters in the second. He got out of that pickle as well.
“Noesi was fantastic,” said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. “I was really pleased with the way he pitched. He’s using all four of his pitches. I think he’s gained a great deal of confidence. He just needs to stay in that zone and keep working.”
The Mariners got to Cleveland starter Zach McAllister in the third when McAllister, unbelievably, issued a four-pitch walk to No. 9 hitter Brendan Ryan, in an 0-for-17 slump and batting .137. Ackley followed with a walk. Ryan and Ackley stole second and third. A Saunders ground out plated Ryan for a 1-0 lead.
The Indians loaded the bases against Noesi in the fourth inning. Lopez had a chance to wreak major damage, but hit the ball off the end of his bad and grounded out, ending the threat.
In the fifth, after McAllister walked John Jaso and fanned Mike Carp, he, again unbelievably, walked Ryan on four pitches. Ackley reached on a fielding error by Lopez, loading the bases for Saunders. A passed ball by Santana scored Jaso. Saunders looked at a strike, lined a shot foul down the first base line, and then whiffed for the second out.
Ichiro had a chance to improve on his .202 batting average with runners in scoring position, but hit a weak fly to center to end the inning.
The Mariners got a runner (Seager) to third with one out in the sixth, but Alex Liddi whiffed. Jaso doubled, his fifth of the season, scoring Seager for a 3-0 lead. Then Ryan snapped his hitlessness with an RBI single, plating Jaso for a 4-0 lead.
The Mariners got two aboard with one out in the eighth, but couldn’t do anything. Then Delabar came in, walked Santana and gave up a double to Kotchman. Lopez tied the game with his bomb over the left-field fence.
The Mariners got two aboard in the 10th with one out but couldn’t score.
NOTES: With a first-inning single, Ackley extended his hitting streak to 13 games, longest by a Mariner in 2012 . . . Ryan went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks . . . Alex Liddi made his first start in left field and played without incident. But he whiffed three times . . . The Mariners looked at only six pitches in the fourth inning . . . Ichiro went 0-for-6 for the first time this season.