Walks and command issues on the mound came back to bite the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
The Mariners issued a season-high eight walks, five coming from starter Nathan Karns, in a 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
Tyler Naquin golfed a two-run home run off reliever Joaquin Benoit in the eighth inning to give Cleveland the lead. Dan Otero (1-0) picked up the victory in relief of starter Josh Tomlin. Cody Allen worked out of two jams to earn his 13th save of the season.
“Our whole night revolved around the walk. We walked eight guys tonight, which is probably a season high,” manager Scott Servais said.
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Karns walked three batters in the first two innings alone. A great catch on the warning track by Norichika Aoki with the bases loaded prevented Cleveland from delivering a sizable blow early. The walks caught up to Karns in the fifth inning. After striking out Chris Gimenez to open the inning, walks to Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis ended Karns’ night. With the bases loaded, Jose Ramirez singled to right field to score Santana but Francisco Lindor was thrown out at the plate by Cruz to end the inning and keep the game tied 1-1.
“Battling myself out there,” Karns said. “The walks are a clear indication that I was struggling with command. That was the biggest problem I had to deal with tonight.”
“That’s something the last two starts has really been handicapping me where I’m not going deep into games. I’m not being effective with my pitch count or commanding the strike zone. When you don’t do that, it’s a long inning. It’s hard to keep every one else in rhythm and that’s just not something a starter needs to be doing.”
Karns lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run and two hits.
Benoit (1-1) walked Rajai Davis with one out in the eighth inning before Naquin’s blast gave Cleveland the lead. A throwing error by Benoit allowed Chris Gimenez to reach base and ultimately score on a single by Kipnis to increase the lead to 5-2.
“We were right in it until the end, really good at-bats to give us a chance late but just not enough. The walks really got us tonight,” Servais said.
Robinson Cano’s second solo homer of the game – this one off Bryan Shaw – closed the gap to 5-3 in the bottom half of the inning. Kyle Seager singled and Lind walked to force Cleveland to bring Allen in early, but he forced Ketel Marte to ground out to end the inning.
Aoki and Seth Smith singled off Allen with two outs but Allen got Cano to strike out to seal the victory.
Cano homered to center field off Tomlin in the first inning to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. After a single by Nelson Cruz, Seager came inches from a home run as his fly ball landed on the yellow line of the wall in left field and caromed back into play. Davis and Lindor combined to throw out Cruz at the plate to end the inning and limit the damage.
Cleveland grabbed the lead off reliever Edwin Diaz in the seventh inning. Gimenez walked and Lindor doubled to put runners on second and third. Mike Napoli’s broken bat infield single plated Gimenez to give the Indians the 2-1 lead.
The advantage was short-lived as Lind crushed the first pitch from Tomlin over the wall in right-center field to even the game at 2-2.
“There is something to be said for continuing to plug away,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We fought back to take a lead and we had it for about 30 seconds. And then, off some pretty good pitchers, we found ways to score and we had to hang on like crazy.”
Tomlin allowed two runs and nine hits with four strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.
Indians: C Yan Gomes is still sore after suffering contused testicles in Tuesday night’s game. A follow-up examination showed no serious damage, but he wasn’t expected to be available Thursday night, according to manager Terry Francona. … 3B Jose Ramirez was back in the lineup Thursday after being scratched with a sore ankle on Wednesday. Ramirez fouled a ball off his ankle on Tuesday night. … RHP Danny Salazer threw well after missing Tuesday’s start due to shoulder fatigue. The Indians skipped Salazar’s last start and called up Cody Anderson for a spot start.
Mariners: CF Leonys Martin was scratched from a rehab outing with Triple-A Tacoma due to a wet field. Martin has been on the DL since May 27 with a hamstring strain. Manager Scott Servais said he wouldn’t be hesistant to activate Martin on Friday without a rehab outing.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (5-6, 3.84 ERA) will get the ball against the Los Angeles Angels. Kluber didn’t allow a run in his last start against the Kansas City Royals. Kluber pitched six innings with two hits, two walks and six strikeouts. He has picked up the victory in three of his last four starts.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (4-5, 4.13 ERA) will make his second consecutive start against the Texas Rangers. Iwakuma took the loss despite a strong outing last Sunday against Texas. Iwakuma allowed one earned run and four hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. He has pitched seven innings in each of his last three starts.