SEATTLE – When the Seattle Mariners decided to put the rest of the season into the hands of their young players and hang on for the ride, they knew there would be harrowing moments.
But not this.
The Cleveland Indians pounded rookie pitcher Travis Blackley with three straight home runs and a seven-run lead in the third inning, and they never stopped crushing the ball Friday night at Safeco Field.
Cleveland hit eight home runs off Mariners pitchers – their young and their old – in an 18-6 victory over the M’s that turned ugly after it got out of hand.
“They were taking some batting-practice swings today,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. “That was pretty ugly.”
The Indians hit four home runs in the ninth, including three off reliever Julio Mateo, who planted a fastball into the back of Lou Merloni that caused both benches to empty.
“They’re hanging out there getting some good swings and he wanted to get them off the plate,” Melvin said.
After a few minutes of angry words but no blows, the Indians went back to pounding the M’s with their bats.
Jody Gerut hit a two-run homer off Mike Myers that made it 18-3 to finish the Indians’ night of power.
Catcher Victor Martinez hit three homers and drove in seven runs in the Indians’ biggest home-run display since Jim Thome played for them.
This was far from an individual effort, though.
The Indians raked seven Mariners pitchers for 21 hits, including the three homers by Martinez and one each by Matt Lawton, Casey Blake, Ben Broussard, Travis Hafner and Gerut. Lawton, Martinez and Blake went back-to-back-to-back off Blackley in the third.
Blackley, a 21-year-old left-hander making his third major league start, struggled with his control and paid for it. He is now 1-2 with an 11.37 earned run average.
“He fell behind and threw some balls over the middle of the plate,” Melvin said. “It’s going to happen sometimes with kids coming up, and he’s truly a kid.”
The other rookie performances were far from harrowing:
* Bucky Jacobsen’s major league debut featured a shaving-cream pie from pitcher Eddie Guardado during an afternoon TV interview, then a solid night at the plate.
Jacobsen went 1-for-2 with two walks, a sixth-inning single, two runs and a second-inning strikeout. He brought the crowd to its feet in the sixth inning with a second-deck blast that hooked foul.
“All in all, I was impressed with how he took pitches,” Melvin said. “He wasn’t trying to be too aggressive and go after balls out of the strike zone. He was patient and relaxed. It ended up being a good night for him.”
* Third baseman Justin Leone hit a second-deck home run for the second straight game, a three-run poke to left field in the fourth inning that made the score 7-3. Leone, who also hit an RBI double in the ninth, became the first player in Safeco Field history to hit upper-deck home runs in consecutive games.
* J.J. Putz relieved Blackley with nobody out in the third and, although he allowed Ronnie Belliard’s RBI single, got out of that jam and pitched two more scoreless innings.
* Left-hander George Sherrill, who had 13 saves at Tacoma and made the Pacific Coast League All-Star team, got two quick outs in the seventh inning but gave up three straight hits, including Martinez’s two-run single.
Three veteran pitchers weren’t any better.
Ron Villone walked two, hit a batter and allowed Martinez’s three-run homer in the sixth inning; Shigetoshi Hasegawa gave up two hits and a run in the eighth; and Myers allowed two hits in the ninth, including Gerut’s home run.