Ohka delivers, but Tribe bats fall flat
Righty solid for seven frames against Mariners in loss
CLEVELAND -- Jarrod Washburn sliced and diced his way through the Indians' lineup, despite being less than sharp.
Washburn became the second successive Mariners starter to carve up the Indians, who wasted starter Tomo Ohka's strong outing, in a 3-1 loss on Saturday in front of 24,893 at Progressive Field. Washburn followed teammate Felix Hernandez's dominant start on Friday with one of his own.Washburn was able to cruise, despite not having his best stuff. "I wasn't sharp at all," Washburn said. "I don't know how many spots I hit, but it wasn't many." It was more than enough to shut down a suddenly inept Indians offense. The Tribe didn't even threaten Washburn for much of the game. They outhit the Mariners, eight to five, but didn't even get a runner to second base until the sixth inning. And even when they did seem to figure out Washburn late, they were unable to take advantage. "He pitched a good ballgame, but we didn't string anything together," manager Eric Wedge said. "We got some hits, we hit some balls hard for outs, but we were unable to put anything together. That was the difference." Despite the Indians' inability to score runs, they were still within striking distance because of a strong outing by Ohka. He was pitching for his spot in the rotation after Wedge wouldn't guarantee him another start after two successive subpar outings. But after his performance Saturday, he will almost assuredly make at least one more start. Ohka pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on four hits with two strikeouts and three walks. "I thought he threw the ball where he needed to for the most part," Wedge said. "We haven't made a decision [if Ohka will pitch next week], but obviously, he pitched well." But it was all for naught. Ohka kept the Mariners scoreless through three innings, but they finally got to him in the fourth. After Ken Griffey Jr. walked, Ohka left a slider up in the zone to Franklin Gutierrez, who homered to right-center field to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead. It was Gutierrez's second home run in as many days against his former team. He also made a few nice plays defensively. "They always have an extra edge when facing their old ballclub," Wedge said. "He's a good all-around ballplayer. He has some sock in his bat." The Mariners added to their lead in the fifth, when Ronny Cedeno doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Russell Branyan to put the Mariners up, 3-0. But that would be all the damage they'd do off Ohka. "I think I pitched OK," Ohka said. "I felt better than before." But he couldn't have felt good about the run support he got. The Indians had plenty of chances to rally back late, but squandered their opportunities. They had runners on first and third with two outs in the sixth inning, but Shin-Soo Choo -- usually one of the Indians' best hitters with runners in scoring position -- grounded out. The Tribe threatened again in the seventh, when Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner singled with no outs. But Jhonny Peralta lined out hard to left and Ryan Garko hit a fly ball to the warning track that Gutierrez caught two feet from the wall. The Indians would finally get a run off Washburn later that inning, when Jamey Carroll singled up the middle and Martinez slid just under catcher Rob Johnson's tag in a bang-bang play at the plate to cut the Mariners' lead to 3-1. But Ben Francisco would end any chance of a rally when he grounded into a fielder's choice. "You have to give him credit," Martinez said. "I think personally, that both [Hernandez and Washburn] pitched pretty good against us." The Indians have now lost 21 of their past 29 games and are 2-35 when scoring three runs or fewer.
Matt O'Donnell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.