CLEVELAND – If in the first you don’t succeed, nothing else matters. Nope, not a Yogi-ism. That was the Mariners and Cleveland Indians on Saturday at Progressive Field.
The Mariners struck for three runs in the first inning on homers by Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager against Danny Salazar. The Indians then, aided by three walks, countered with four runs against Yovani Gallardo.
And that was it.
“That can’t happen,” Gallardo said. “Especially after we put up three runs in the first inning against a guy like Salazar, you know he’s tough. It definitely can’t happen. It’s just one of those things…falling behind guys.”
Cleveland evened the three-game series with a 4-3 victory on a cold, blustery afternoon, a Lake Erie special.
“(Gallardo) just struggled and didn’t make a quick-enough adjustment,” manager Scott Servais said. “The walks. You look up and, after very good top of the first, we’re down.”
Salazar (2-2) recovered from his rocky first by pitching into the seventh inning without allowing another hit. The Indians went to Andrew Miller after a one-out walk to Guillermo Heredia.
Miller walked pinch-hitter Carlos Ruiz but struck out Taylor Motter on a borderline full-count slider. Miller closed the inning by striking out Jean Segura.
After Miller pitched a scoreless eighth inning, the Indians summoned Cody Allen to close out their victory.
“Their bullpen is very good,” Servais said. “It’s experienced. They can make pitches. They don’t give in. They’ve been through the wars. You hope you don’t see those guys.”
Gallardo (1-3) pitched five scoreless innings after the Tribe’s four-run first. That saved the bullpen going into Sunday’s series finale, but the Mariners’ winning streak ended at three games.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Gallardo said, “especially after the last start I had in Oakland, where I was just pounding the strike zone (and allowing one run in 6 1/3 innings).
“Something like that happens in the following start, it’s frustrating for sure.”
It started well.
The Mariners muscled up with two outs in the first inning in a three-pitch sequence against Salazar.
Robinson Cano sliced a curve into the left-field corner. Cruz followed with a 419-foot homer to center on a fastball. Seager then launched another Salazar fastball for a 398-foot homer to center.
Seager’s homer was his first of the year.
“Nellie hit that ball really well,” Seager said. “So he got it going. I was just trying to be a little more aggressive on the first pitch. I wasn’t trying to hit a homer. I’m glad it went out, but I was just trying to put a good swing on it.”
It was the last hit the Mariners got.
“We were able to get a few there in the first inning,” Seager said. “Then really not much of anything after that. He’s got really good stuff. He really settled down, and we weren’t getting much going.”
Even so, Gallardo took the mound with a 3-0 lead before started the inning by walking Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor.
A one-out walk to Edwin Encarnacion loaded the bases for Jose Ramirez, who served a two-run double to right.
Jason Kipnis struck out, but Lonnie Chisenhall punched a two-run single up the middle. Cleveland led 4-3. Gallardo gave up a single to Abraham Almonte before ending a 38-pitch inning when Yan Gomes flied to center.
“After those three walks,” Gallardo said, “I made some pretty good pitches. A (double) off the end of the bat, a ground ball that gets up the middle. But I put myself in that situation. There are no excuses.
“I got that weak contact, but I was the one who put those guys on base.”
PLAY OF THE GAME: Boog Powell made his big-league debut, officially, as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning for Mike Zunino. But Powell never made it past the on-deck circle.
When the Indians changed pitchers to lefty Andrew Miller, the Mariners sent Carlos Ruiz up as a pinch-hitter for Powell.
PLUS: Cruz’s homer came in his first at-bat after missing Friday’s game because of tightness in his left hamstring. He leads the Mariners with six homers and 21 RBIs…reliever Nick Vincent worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings and had 9 1/3 scoreless innings over his last seven appearances…lefty Marc Rzepczynski retired the only batter he faced in extending his season-long scoreless streak to 6 2/3 innings in 10 outings.
MINUS: Dan Vogelbach had a brutal at-bat as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning against Allen. After jumping ahead 2-0 in the count, Vogelbach took two fastballs down the middle before waving at a breaking ball for a strike…Jean Segura was hitless in four at-bats after going 8 for 18 in four previous games after returning from the disabled list.
STAT PACK: The Mariners have scored first in all nine games so far on the road trip. They are 4-5 in those games.
QUOTABLE: “Walks,” Gallardo said. “Walks are going to find their way to score.”
SHORT HOPS: Gallardo career ERA in the first inning is 5.16…Seager has 12 RBIs in his last 16 games…ex-Mariners outfielder Abraham Almonte is 3 for 6 in the first two games of the series.
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