After uncharacteristically pounding out nine runs on 10 hits Wednesday night, the Mariners reverted to their usual form Thursday, managing two hits and three base runners in a 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field (box score). With starter J.A. Happ flat and ousted early, the Mariners (27-33) blew their chance at a series sweep, but get an opportunity to gouge into Houston’s lead in the AL West when they begin a three-game set with the Astros Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead into the third and erupted for four runs on five hits, chasing Happ, who surrendered three hits, including an RBI single to Brandon Moss.
The first hit came in the fifth when Mark Trumbo singled. Logan Morrison went 0-for-4 and saw his hitting streak snapped at 16 games, third-longest in the American League this season. Robinson Cano had Seattle’s other hit, a seventh-inning double, but finished the series 3-for-13. Morrison was Seattle’s only other base runner, arriving via HBP. The Mariners did not draw a walk.
C Mike Zunino went 0-for-3 and is batting a Ray Oyler-ish .165.
Happ lasted 2.1 innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits. Of Happ’s 77 pitches, 48 were strikes. The only shorter outing for Happ was May 21 when he went two innings in a 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
The Indians followed by roughing up reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, who yielded a two-run single to No. 9 hitter Roberto Perez for a 5-0 lead.
Happ’s poor outing broke a streak of eight consecutive quality starts. Former closer Fernando Rodney pitched the eighth and started off with five consecutive balls, but got out of the frame with a double play and strikeout. Cleveland starter Shaun Markum allowed two hits over seven innings with five strikeouts.
“We didn’t do much offensively; Markum kept us off balance for the most part and all the credit goes to him. He was cutting it, sinking it, back-dooring it. The wind was blowing. On a normal day, we might have had three home runs. Happ just didn’t have his best stuff. He had 67 pitches in the first two innings. He had a lot of foul balls and his day was numbered” — Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon.
RF/DH Nelson Cruz missed his second consecutive start nursing a back strain. He was available as a pinch hitter, but wasn’t needed. Cruz hasn’t played since Tuesday, when he was removed from the first game of the series with back spasms . . . The Mariners have been shut out four times this season and fell to 3-4 vs. Cleveland . . . Mariners have lost 10 of their past 16 and are 7-10-2 in series played.
The Mariners begin a three-set with the AL West-leading Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park Friday at 5:10 p.m., PT. Felix Hernandez (9-2, 2.51) will throw opposite LHP Brett Oberholtzer (0-1, 3.75). Seattle is 1-6 against Houston this season.