CLEVELAND – Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen summed up the feelings of his team when asked about this latest gut-wrenching defeat and series sweep.
“We’re glad to leave,” Wilhelmsen said. “We’re glad to leave Cleveland.”
It isn’t simply that the Mariners took a third walk-off loss in four games Monday, this one 10-8 in the 10th inning to the Indians, that had Wilhelmsen’s squad so shellshocked. Rather, it was the bizarre way in which this entire series seemed to unfold, including in the bottom of the ninth in this one with Wilhelmsen dropping a toss from Justin Smoak on what looked like a game-ending play at the first-base bag.
“Smoakie made a great play and threw a perfect ball right to me,” Wilhelmsen said. “I simply took my eyes off it and it fell out.”
The crowd of 19,390 at Progressive Field erupted in cheers as the tying run scored on the play. But the Mariners silenced them immediately in the 10th inning when Smoak hit the second go-ahead solo homer in as many frames for the visiting side.
Charlie Furbush took over in the bottom of the inning, hoping to shut things down. But the Indians got a bloop-single, then Drew Stubbs reached on an error by Smoak when Furbush fielded a bunt, looked at second a bit too long, then hurried a throw that hit the first baseman in the chest.
Yan Gomes stepped up next and drilled a fastball over the left-field wall for his second home run of the game to deliver the walk-off victory. The Mariners were swept four straight in the series and have lost six straight games at this ballpark.
They also fell to 2-5 on this trip despite having arguably played well enough to win most of the games. Wilhelmsen was asked whether his team felt it deserved a better fate than what’s played out.
“Yeah, you know, we want to be 4-0 (in Cleveland),” he said. “Do we deserve it? Apparently not. They beat us. That’s just the way it is.”
The Mariners fought hard to rally from numerous deficits in a game that seesawed back and forth. Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma had trouble keeping the ball down early and saw a 2-0 lead vanish in the second on a three-run homer by Ryan Raburn, followed by a solo shot from Gomes that put Cleveland up 4-2.
But the Mariners tied it up 4-4 right away in the third off Indians starter Scott Kazmir, fell behind again in the bottom of the frame, then evened it up 5-5 in the fourth. Iwakuma then pulled his game together the final few innings and kept the score tied through the sixth.
“I wanted to keep the team in the game,” said Iwakuma, who allowed a season-high five earned runs.