Still Stumbling: Indians fall behind early, lose 5-2 to Mariners and drop 2 games under .500


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CLEVELAND — With the trade deadline looming, the Indians aren't sure if they're buyers or sellers. Winners or losers.

In an uneven season, they're not sure which way to go.

Trevor Bauer didn't get through the fifth inning and the Indians failed to get back to .500 on Tuesday night with a 5-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

Bauer (4-6) was touched for four runs in the fourth inning and the Indians trailed 5-0 before getting an RBI single by Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis' run-scoring groundout in the fifth.

Cleveland couldn't get much going against Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma (9-5), and the Indians didn't have any luck either as several hard-hit balls were caught and David Murphy's apparent homer in the seventh was ruled a double.

It was that kind of night.

It's been that kind of year.

"We're really not that different from last year," manager Terry Francona said before the game. "We started the second half off last year with a horrendous road trip, and everybody wrote us off and we bounced back. You've got to play the games. We get to .500, slip back, get to .500, slip back.

"At some point, we need to get to .500 and kick it into gear. That's harder to do than it is to say."

The Indians are 5-7 since the All-Star break, and with August quickly approaching, time is running short.

"We need to put that run together," Francona said.

The Mariners, who came in with the fewest runs scored in the AL, took a 4-0 lead in the fourth when they hit three doubles — all of them hard hits — off Bauer.

"I think I was just behind too much," Bauer said. "When you don't get ahead they take good swings."

Mike Zunino's 16th homer gave the Mariners a 5-0 lead in the fifth and chased Bauer, who had gone at least six innings in each of his previous four starts.

MURPHY'S LAW

With the Indians trailing 5-2, Murphy hit a towering fly to right in the seventh that appeared to clear the wall. Umpires ruled it a double and the call stood up following a crew-chief challenge.

After looking at a replay, Murphy thought he homered.

"I felt like it hit right on top of the yellow line," he said. "You always want a call like that to go your way. They call it a game of inches for a reason. You hate walking away from a game with a what-might-have-been feeling."

RUMOR MILL

With trade rumors rampant, Cleveland starter Justin Masterson, in the final year of his contract, isn't surprised his name has been mentioned in more than a few deals.

"It's just default," said Masterson, acquired at the deadline in 2009 from Boston in the trade for Victor Martinez. "Anyone who is about to be a free agent has their name thrown in there."

Masterson feels the Indians are still in position to make a playoff push.

"We like what we have," said Masterson, who will return from the DL and pitch Friday. "If I can come back and be three-quarters of what I was before that, I can almost be like a free agent coming in."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: As center fielder Michael Bourn rehabs his surgically repaired left hamstring, Francona is trying to let the speedster recover at his own pace. Bourn has been on the disabled list since July 6, and it's not yet known when he will go on a rehab assignment or be activated. Bourn took batting practice before Tuesday's game.

ON DECK:

Two of the AL's top pitchers match up in the second game of the series when Seattle's Felix Hernandez takes on Cleveland's Corey Kluber. Hernandez (11-2) has allowed two runs or less and pitched at least seven innings in 13 consecutive starts, an AL record. King Felix, though, is just 7-5 in his career against the Indians, with all five losses coming in Cleveland.

Kluber (10-6) carried a perfect game into the seventh inning of his previous start.

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