Kipnis’ 10th-inning homer beats Mariners
CLEVELAND — Eric Wedge got the lefty-on-lefty matchup that he wanted in the 10th inning, but not the result.
Jason Kipnis belted a two-out, three-run homer off Seattle reliever Lucas Luetge, giving the streaking Cleveland Indians a 6-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Luetge (0-1) left an 0-1 slider over the plate, which fellow left-hander Kipnis hammered 365 feet over the wall in right field.
“I knew it was bad right away,” Luetge said of his final pitch. “Sometimes, when the ball leaves your hand, you think, ‘Oh, man,’ but in other words. This was one of those times.”
Raul Ibanez had a season-high three hits for Seattle, including a two-run homer in the sixth that tied the game. The Mariners are 11-6 since April 27, but squandered an opportunity to reach .500 for the first time since April 8.
Seattle got six solid innings from starter Brandon Maurer, along with 3 1/3 combined scoreless frames from relievers Charlie Furbush and Carter Capps before Luetge failed to close out the 10th.
“It’s unfortunate we lost, but this was a good battle by both sides,” said Ibanez, who is 12 for 31 (.387) in the last 10 games. “We’ve got nothing to hang our heads about. We’re playing good baseball and we’ll come back ready tomorrow.”
Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano (1-0), who was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, earned the win with one scoreless inning.
Luetge replaced Capps with one out in the 10th and retired Michael Brantley on a grounder, but walked Drew Stubbs to extend the inning. Stubbs broke for second with a 1-2 count on Michael Bourn, and Luetge threw to first baseman Justin Smoak, but Stubbs beat the throw to shortstop Brendan Ryan.
Bourn followed with an infield hit toward second base, setting the stage for Kipnis’ heroics.
“I picked Stubbs off, but he was just quicker than we were,” Luetge said. “It was a little frustrating with the ball not bouncing our way with Bourn, but if I had gotten the next guy out (Kipnis), none of it would have mattered.”
Wedge agreed with his young pitcher, saying, “That was the matchup we wanted, lefty-on-lefty there, but Luetge just spun one up there and they took advantage of it. Lucas has been in these situations before, but tonight just didn’t go his way.”
Kipnis said of his winning homer, “This was outstanding. This was one of the more fun nights I’ve had on a baseball field.”
Maurer allowed three runs on five hits while tying his career high with six strikeouts. The rookie right-hander gave up a solo homer to Stubbs in the fifth that put Cleveland up 3-1, but he finished strong with a perfect sixth.
“They stacked their lineup with a lot of lefties, quite a bit more than I’ve seen so far, so I threw a lot of two-seamers, which seemed to work,” said Maurer, who is 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA through eight major league starts. “My confidence was a lot better today, and I was glad I made some pitches at the end to come out strong.”
Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez was pulled with a 3-1 lead in the sixth after giving up a leadoff single to Justin Smoak. Ibanez promptly greeted Cleveland reliever Rich Hill with a two-run homer to right, tying the score at 3-3.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Jason Giambi’s sacrifice fly scored Nick Swisher, and Carlos Santana came home on a Maurer wild pitch.
Designated hitter Kendrys Morales pulled the Mariners within 2-1 in the fourth, when he belted a 429-foot home run into the second deck in right field.
Mariners outfielder Michael Morse, who is batting .600 (9 for 15) in his last four games, was a late scratch with an irritated eye. Endy Chavez took his spot in right field and batted eighth.
Before the game, Seattle selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Danny Farquhar from Triple-A Tacoma to bolster their fatigued relief corps. Farquhar, who was 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 15 relief appearances with the Rainiers, was acquired from the Yankees as part of the Ichiro Suzuki trade on July 23, 2012.
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