The Seattle Mariners are watching their American League wild-card hopes evaporate, and the schedule certainly isn’t going to help with the Cleveland Indians visiting on Friday for the opener of their three-game series. Cleveland has won 27 of its last 28 games - including 14 straight on the road - while the Mariners have lost six consecutive contests.
The AL Central-champion Indians are just one game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball and four victories away from the franchise’s third 100-win campaign. Francisco Lindor belted a three-run homer - his 32nd of the season - in Thursday’s 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels and has gone deep 11 times during the team’s 28-game stretch. Seattle suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of Texas and is five games behind Minnesota for the AL’s second wild card. Robinson Cano hit his 300th career homer in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to halt his 15-game drought.
TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), ROOT Northwest (Seattle)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Trevor Bauer (16-9, 4.41 ERA) vs. Mariners RH Erasmo Ramirez (5-6, 4.56)
Bauer is the only Cleveland hurler with a loss in the team’s last 28 games, but the defeat came after he won his previous nine decisions. The 26-year-old fell to Kansas City last Friday, when he gave up four runs and nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. Bauer is 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA in six career appearances (five starts) against Seattle and has struggled against Nelson Cruz (6-for-10, one homer) and Kyle Seager (6-for-15, one).
Ramirez was roughed up for six runs and eight hits in four-plus innings while losing to Houston in his last turn. He is winless over his last five outings despite giving up just two runs on three occasions during that span. Ramirez is 1-2 with a 4.58 ERA in six career appearances (three starts) against the Indians and has served up two homers to both Jason Kipnis (4-for-9) and Edwin Encarnacion (4-for-17).
1. Encarnacion hit his 37th homer on Thursday, giving him three blasts and nine RBIs in his last six games.
2. Cruz has homered in back-to-back contests and is five shots away from his fourth straight 40-homer season.
3. Cleveland LHP Andrew Miller (knee) gave up one hit and two walks while striking out three in one inning Thursday for his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance since returning from the disabled list.
PREDICTION: Indians 9, Mariners 3