In a game with a final box score that will likely never be repeated, Bruce Chen and the Cleveland Indians took down Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in an 8-6 victory at Goodyear Ballpark on Wednesday. Chen got the win behind the Tribe’s 11 hits and five walks, while Hernandez was saddled with a loss despite Seattle managing 11 hits and two walks.
In a rare dramatic spring training moment, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was tossed from the game in the fourth inning after arguing with home-plate umpire Alan Porter, who warned both benches after Chen threw two pitches behind the back of Rickie Weeks. McClendon felt Chen was retaliating for a pitch that got away from Hernandez and hit Michael Brantley in the second inning.
First Inning: An Offensive Duel
Chen looked as though he was in for a rough day when he took the mound in the first inning, allowing a lead-off home run to Weeks. With one out, Robinson Cano hit a ground-rule double, and Nelson Cruz quickly followed with a homer of his own before Chen could escape the inning. But Hernandez was equally shaky, giving up a single to Michael Bourn and a walk to Jason Kipnis before allowing Brantley an RBI single that put the Tribe on the board. Kipnis scored on a groundout off the bat of Carlos Santana, but the big blow came from Brandon Moss, who launched a two-run homer that put the Tribe up 4-3.
Second Inning: Hernandez Falls Apart
The top of the second inning went much more smoothly than the first inning, although the Mariners tied it up after Brad Miller tripled and Austin Jackson tacked on a run with a two-out RBI single. Hernandez, however, wasn’t as lucky as Chen. With one out, Jose Ramirez walked and stole second base, enabling him to score on a double off the bat of Bourn. After Brantley was hit by a pitch, Santana doubled to score two more runs and, with the Indians up 7-4, Hernandez was replaced by Paul Fry. The game settled down from there, but Moss tacked on a final Tribe run in the sixth inning, when pinch-runner Michael Martinez scored on an RBI-single.
Eighth Inning: Seattle Makes a Comeback
Pitcher Austin Adams, who is trying to earn the final roster spot with the Indians, didn’t help his case in his outing. With one down, Adams allowed a single to Cruz, followed by a walk to Kyle Seager. Catcher Jeremy Lucas picked off pinch-runner Ian Miller at second base, which made a huge difference when Adams gave up back-to-back RBI doubles to Dustin Ackley and Mike Zunino to make the score 8-6 in favor of the Tribe.
It was a two-hit kind of day for Bourn, Kipnis, Brantley and Moss — and Kipnis and Moss each had a walk, too. This lineup was extremely close to the one the Indians will be rolling out on a daily basis, so it was good to see the regulars get some hits. Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, Anthony Swarzak and Jeff Manship were almost perfect in their 3.2 innings of relief work, although Allen gave up a walk in his inning.
A pair of errors were made by the Indians, although they were charged to minor-league players, not the everyday fielders. The most concerning aspect of the game was Adams. With his Opening Day job on the line, he fell apart and allowed runs. The rest of the bullpen has been lights-out all spring. Terry Francona loves having eight relievers, and therefore Adams still has a better shot at making the team than any position player does, but the Tribe will need to keep a close eye on him.
Check It Out
– What do Allen, Manship, Scott Atchison, Kyle Crockett, Nick Hagadone and Marc Rzepczynski have in common? All are frequently-used relievers who have ERAs under two this spring. Perhaps the most impressive pitchers of the group have been Hagadone, who has not allowed a single run to score in 7.1 innings, and Manship, who has only allowed one run in 9.1 innings. They’ve also combined for 37 strikeouts. If the Tribe’™s bullpen keeps this up, they will dominate hitters this season.
– With just four spring training games left, the Indians will take on the Giants in Scottsdale on Wednesday. Cy Young winner Corey Kluber is set to make his final spring start, and he’ll face off against World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner has a 5.65 ERA in 14.1 innings this spring, and he is scheduled to open the season for the Giants in Arizona on Monday. Kluber, meanwhile, has a 3.38 ERA in 18.3 innings.