Nelson Cruz hit a game-ending two-run homer in the ninth inning to secure a 3-1 win for the Seattle Mariners over the Cleveland Indians.
Cruz steered a 2-1 pitch from closer Cody Allen (3-7) out to deep right-center field – snapping Seattle’s six-game losing streak and improving their very slim wild-card hopes. The Mariners are five games behind Minnesota for the last AL playoff spot with eight games remaining.
Cruz also cooled baseball’s hottest team. Cleveland lost for only the second time since August 23 – a span of 29 games that included an historic 22-game winning streak. It ended a franchise-record 14-game road winning streak – the Indians hadn’t lost away from home since August 20 at Kansas City.
Robinson Cano singled off Allen to open the ninth, and Cruz followed with his 36th home run.
Grateful…hope you enjoyed tonight as much as I did. Agradecido…espero hayan gozado esta noche tanto como yo. #Repost @mariners (@get_repost) ・・・ All the hardware. @ncboomstick23 receives this year's Mariners Heart & Hustle Award from the @mlbpaa, and the BBWAA Player of the Year Award. Congrats, Nellie! ? #TrueToTheBlue
Erasmo Ramirez shut down Cleveland for a career-high eight innings, and Edwin Diaz (4-6) pitched the ninth to cap a three-hitter.
It was a pitchers’ duel most of the way between Ramirez and Trevor Bauer. Giovanny Urshela homered for Cleveland’s only run, and Seattle pulled even in the seventh. Kyle Seager led off with a double, and Yonder Alonso followed with a single to right. Seager was initially held at third, but Jay Bruce mishandled the ball, and the error allowed Seager to score and tie the game.
Urshela’s homer was his first of the season and seventh of his career. His last home run came in September 2015.
It was the third time in Ramirez’s career that he has finished eight innings, but the first time since September 2012 during his first stint with the Mariners. Ramirez kept the Indians guessing throughout, also matching a career-high with 10 strikeouts. He retired the final 18 batters after Urshela’s homer in the third inning.
Ramirez was the first Seattle pitcher to go eight innings since Andrew Moore on July 3.
The outstanding performance from Ramirez kept Bauer from being able to match team-mate Corey Kluber with his 17th victory. Bauer scattered five hits over seven innings but was lifted before the eighth with his pitch count at 116 pitches. It was his eighth start of the season allowing one earned run or fewer.
We promised fireworks, and we got them a little bit early. A postgame fireworks show is coming right up. We'll be live on Facebook in a bit. pic.twitter.com/Pj908xHuRO
— Mariners (@Mariners) September 23, 2017
Cleveland: OF Lonnie Chisenhall is scheduled to begin running on Saturday as he continues to recover from a calf strain that has kept him out since July. Chisenhall will begin his running rehab back in Cleveland. OF Brandon Guyer (wrist) will be re-examined when the team returns to Cleveland next week but could be soon cleared to resume hitting.
Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, James Paxton and Nick Vincent were honored by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America on Friday. Cruz was named the team’s MVP, Paxton was voted the pitcher of the year and Vincent was honored with the ”Unsung Hero” award.
“For a long time, he was probably the MVP of our team,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said of Vincent.
Indians: Carlos Carrasco (16-6) tries to match Kluber with 17 wins. Carrasco will be making his 31st start and has won his past four decisions.
Mariners: RHP Andrew Moore (1-4) makes what could be his last start of the season. It will be Moore’s ninth career start and his first against Cleveland.
Friday’s other MLB results:
Miami Marlins 11-13 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants 2-4 Los Angeles Dodgers
Colorado Rockies 4-1 San Diego Padres