Mariners waste ninth inning rally in 5-4 loss
Montero can’t make stretch as M’s lose heartbreakingly in the ninth at Cleveland
CLEVELAND — Two ninth-inning losses in two days have left the Seattle Mariners reeling and frustrated.
Mark Reynolds’ bases-loaded fielder’s choice in the ninth inning Saturday scored Jason Kipnis and gave the Cleveland Indians a 5-4 victory over Seattle.
The Mariners had tied the score in the top of the ninth on two-out home runs by Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak off Indians closer Chris Perez, but lost in heartbreaking fashion for the second time in less than 24 hours.
On Friday night, Kipnis hit a game-ending three-run homer in the 10th inning to give Cleveland a 6-3 win.
“You don’t see that very often, to hit two solo homers off a top closer like Perez, then they come back and snatch it in the bottom of the inning,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said, shaking his head. “This was a tough one.”
Mariners reliever Oliver Perez (1-1) started the ninth, but allowed all three Indians he faced to reach base. The veteran left-hander surrendered a single to Kipnis and a double to Asdrubal Cabrera after going up 0-2 to both hitters, then intentionally walked Nick Swisher to load the bases.
Rookie Yoervis Medina entered and Reynolds hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Brendan Ryan, but catcher Jesus Montero came off home plate after taking the throw. Kipnis scored standing up, making Chris Perez (2-0) the winner after blowing the save minutes earlier.
“I thought I had him,” said Ryan, whose right knee was bloodied while making the stop. “I haven’t seen the replay, so I don’t know exactly what happened, but I did the best I could.”
Wedge had plenty to say, especially about Montero’s inability to record the force out.
“The throw beat him, but Monty came off the plate early,” said Wedge, a former major league catcher. “You have to stand on the plate, but he came out a little bit early. We got the ground ball we wanted — Ryno made a great play — but we didn’t get it done.”
Montero said Ryan’s throw pulled him slightly toward first base, which was enough to slide his left foot onto the dirt.
“Brandon made an unbelievable diving catch and I tried hard to stay on the plate,” said Montero. “We usually block the plate, but the ball was a little too far and I couldn’t do it.”
The Mariners trailed 4-0 when starter Joe Saunders was pulled after 5 1-3 innings and a season-high 120 pitches. The lefty was rocked for 11 hits, including a home run by Reynolds in the fifth, and remained winless on the road in 2013.
Saunders is 0-4 with an 11.25 ERA in away games, but a sparkling 3-0 with an 0.94 ERA at Safeco Field.
“I’m gonna sacrifice a chicken before my next road start. … This is just kind of a fluky thing,” Saunders said. “I told (pitching coach Carl Willis) in the fifth that I’d go 150 pitches if I had to. I gave everything I had and battled my butt off today.”
Seattle reliever Danny Farquhar, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday, made his first big league appearance since 2011 with Toronto. He tossed 2 2-3 perfect innings and struck out five after replacing Saunders.
Indians right-hander Zach McAllister took a shutout into the eighth, but was chased with one out when he allowed a two-run homer to Ryan. It was Ryan’s first home run since Sept. 23, 2012, and landed on the home run porch in left.
Ibanez’s blast was his second in two games against Cleveland, while Smoak’s homer was his first since May 4.
“That was a very uneventful walkoff, but a win is a win,” Reynolds said. “I just tried to put the ball in play somewhere. When I hit it I said to myself, ‘please get through,’ then it was ‘please make a bad throw,’ and Then ‘please get there.’ “
The Mariners arrived in Cleveland having won 11 of their last 16, only to run into a buzzsaw in the Indians, who entered the day in a first-place tie with Detroit in the AL Central Division.
Seattle ace Felix Hernandez will start the third game of the four-game series Sunday against Cleveland’s Justin Masterson. Hernandez leads the AL with a 1.53 ERA and has a 5-2 record.
Mariners right fielder Michael Morse (eye irritation) returned to the lineup after a one-game absence and was 0 for 4. He was hurt Friday while putting in a contact lens.
Wedge said OF Franklin Gutierrez (right hamstring strain) will not be activated from the 15-day disabled list until “he can come up here, steal a base, and do some things.” Gutierrez is playing CF and RF during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma. “If Guti is 100 percent, there is nobody better than him in center,” Wedge said. “But Michael Saunders has been great there for us, and we need Guti to stay healthy. That’s easier to do, playing either right or left field.” … Mariners RHP Aaron Harang (lower back stiffness) played catch before the game and will throw a bullpen session Sunday. Harang was a late scratch Thursday against the Yankees, but is scheduled to make his next start Tuesday against the Angels. … Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
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