Written by Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

Myers vs SeattleIt’s more of the same in the way of disappointment for the fans looking for a little pop in Terry Francona’s lineup today.  The Tribe mustered just 5 hits, 2 before the sixth inning, and scored a solitary run for the second straight day in a 5-1 loss to the Mariners in Goodyear, AZ on Wednesday.  A little credit for Seattle’s pitching, led off by the southpaw Danny Hultzen, is due.

Hultzen, Seattle’s 2011 first-round pick, was taken 2nd overall and pitched like a phenom should, even if it is only February 27th.  After a one out walk to Lou Marson in the first inning, Cord Phelps looked like he had the Indians in business with a single to center, but the 23-year from the University of Virginia worked his way out of it, even though he surrendered a 2-out walk before striking out Ben Francisco with the bases loaded to end the threat.

Hultzen would strike out four, walk two, and give up one hit in his two inning of shutout ball.  In his previous outing on Saturday, Hultzen worked an inning against San Diego in Peoria, striking out two without giving up a hit.  Unfortunately for the Tribe, when Hultzen left the game, the solid Seattle pitching did not leave with him.  Taijuan Walker, Charlie Furbush, Hector Noesi, and Luke Luetge combined with Hultzen for 7 innings of shutout pitching, before Stephen Pryor was a victim of his shoddy defense in the 8th.

For the Indians, projected #3 starter Brett Myers took the ball for the second time this spring, and worked two pretty good innings, pitching to contact, before encountering Carlos Peguero with one out in the top of the third inning.  Peguero, who has 8 HR in 199 career at-bats put Myers 3-1 offering over the wall in left-center field to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead, but that didn’t open the flood gates, even though it was starting to look that way.

Myers hit Brendan Ryan with the next pitch and walked Dustin Ackley before getting Casper Wells and Kyle Seager to fly out on two pitches to get out of the inning.  In his first two inning of work, Myers induced six ground balls for seven outs, including a nice 3-6 double play the hard way on a sharp ground ball to Chris McGuiness at first base.

It wasn’t just Myers that had issues with Peguero, who the Indians struggled to get out today; Corey Kluber faced him in his next at-bat an inning later, and Peguero was down in the count 1-2, but hit another solo shot to the right field pavilion at the Goodyear Ballpark.  It was the third run Kluber allowed in his first inning on the mound, but the bases were emptied by Ronnie Paulino’s tailor-made 6-4-3 double play ball.

Kenrys Morales got to Kluber to start the fourth inning with a single, and moved over to third on Raul Ibanez’s double.  Michael Saunders knocked in a run with an RBI single, and another run scored on the double play ball.  After another base hit from Ryan, Dustin Ackley swung and missed three consecutive pitching to put Kluber and the Tribe out of their misery in the inning.

Four runs would be more than enough support for the Mariners pitching staff, who allowed just two hits through five innings before Francisco and McGuiness ignited a miniature threat in the sixth.  However, it was all for not when Ronnie Rodriguez watched three Noesi pitches get called for strikes.

For Rodriguez, a shortstop prospect in the Indians system, it was a rough day at the ballpark.  He struck out twice, committed two throwing errors (including one about eight feet over the 6-3 first baseman Jesus Aguilar’s head, and stranded three runners in relief of Juan Diaz. 

On the bright side, Nick Hagadone pitched well in the eighth inning.  He struck out Seattle’s John Hicks on three pitches.  Hicks swung and missed all three offerings, and that’s when things got a little weird in Goodyear.  With Julio Morban at the plate, the fire alarm went off, delaying the game for five minutes as some 2,252 fans heeded the warning of the alarm and filed for the exits, but many stayed put.  Despite initial rumors that a foul ball triggered a fire alarm, it was revealed to be the criminal handy work of a child. Hagadone got Morban to whiff on three pitches before getting Mike Zunino to fly out to Carlos Moncrief in center field to end the away half of the eighth inning.

For the second day in a row, the Indians avoided being shutout with an eighth inning run, courtesy of an unearned run at the hands of Brad Miller’s fielding error.  Giovanny Urshella, a Tribe farmhand at 3rd base popped one up, lazily to short left, but Miller didn’t haul it in, and Urshella ended up in scoring position on the two-base error.  A Jesus Aguilar sacrifice fly got the Indians on the board for the first and only time of the day, before Pryor struck out Rodriguez to end the eighth.

Josh Kinney pitched the ninth for Seattle and got two quick outs before Indians catcher Yan Gomes, who has made his case to make the team so far, extended the game with ground ball up the middle.  It looked like Mike McDade was going to make it a 5-3 game with a shot to center, but Morban hauled it in at the track to end the game.

After a 5-0 start, the Indians have struggled to hit the ball in their two losses, but Terry Francona told the media after the game that he expects that it’s going to take a few weeks for these guys to get locked in.  The Indians are back in action tomorrow, as they travel northwest to Surprise to take on the Texas Rangers, who will throw Derek Holland (0-0, 3.00 ERA) at the Tribe.  For the Indians, it will be Zach McAllister (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who held Cincinnati hitless in two innings on Sunday.  First pitch on Thursday is at 3:05 ET.