CLEVELAND – After Franklin Gutierrez slammed into the center-field fence in the first inning to make a leaping catch, Seattle’s Jarrod Washburn jogged over to thank him.
“I told him, ‘I’m going to make you a star,’ ” Washburn said. “It seems like every time I pitch, he makes an awesome play.”
Gutierrez is becoming a star all on his own.
Washburn pitched effectively into the seventh inning and Gutierrez homered against his former team for the second straight night in the Mariners’ 3-1 victory against the Cleveland Indians.
Gutierrez was traded to Seattle in December as part of a three-team deal. Saturday he went the opposite way, as he did Friday, in the fourth inning for a two-run homer. It was the 12th of the season for Gutierrez, who hit a career-high 13 with Cleveland two years ago.
“When players that used to play for a club get traded or released, they always have more of an edge when they’re playing their former club,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
Gutierrez has hit in 24 of his last 26 games, belting seven home runs and driving in 19 during that stretch as the everyday center fielder. While in Cleveland, Gutierrez played in right field.
“I’d never played that position before,” Gutierrez said. “I’m playing center every day now. I’m feeling comfortable.”
Washburn (7-6) allowed a run in 62/3 innings and has given up two runs over his last 232/3 innings to win his last three starts. It has lowered his ERA from 3.36 to 2.87 – fifth best in the American League.
He allowed eight hits – all singles – struck out three and did not walk a batter. Washburn has given up two runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts.
“I wasn’t sharp at all,” Washburn said. “I don’t know how many spots I hit. Not very many.”
Even without his best stuff, Washburn limited Cleveland to a two-out RBI single in the seventh by Jamey Carroll.
The throw from Gutierrez beat Victor Martinez to the plate, but home-plate umpire Dana DeMuth called Martinez safe. Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu argued briefly before ending Washburn’s night.
David Aardsma pitched the ninth for his 21st save in 23 chances.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.