That “Mini Green Monster” at Cleveland’s Progressive Field robbed the Seattle Mariners of three home runs Thursday, though you can argue the umpires actually committed the robbery on one of those.
It’s a 19-foot wall in left field, and Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano have some bones to pick with it.
But this is the beauty of a fully healthy Mariners lineup (with first baseman Ryon Healy returning) — they still scored five runs without those dingers.
And the beauty of having a lockdown closer. And set-up reliever.
Edwin Diaz and Juan Nicasio shut the door in the final two innings after Seager’s go-ahead run-scoring double in the eighth inning in a 5-4 Mariners victory over the Indians in the first of this four-game series.
The Mariners (14-10) scored four of their five runs with two outs. And they now have three consecutive wins.
“We are leaning heavily on Juan Nicasio and Eddie Diaz,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters after the game. “We are going to need to win a few by three or four here, hopefully, so we don’t have to run those guys out there every night.”
The Mariners have turned to those two in each of their past three games.
But maybe with a healthy lineup for the first time that might change.
Seager just missed a home run when he smoked a pitch the opposite way, but it just bounced back off the wall with two outs in the eighth inning.
It still scored Ichiro Suzuki after he entered as a pinch-runner for Nelson Cruz, who skied a shot off that Progressive Field wall the batter before that also turned into a double.
Cano’s hit probably should have been a homer in the fifth inning, and was originally called that way. But it was overturned after review, saying it bounced off the top of the wall, though the replays looked like it careened off the railing behind the wall. It certainly was borderline conclusive.
So instead of a 5-0 Mariners lead, Cano got a double out of it, was stranded there, and then the Indians tied the game two innings later.
“When you look at it with a naked eye, it looked like it hit something behind there,” Servais said. “But replay didn’t see it that way. (That was) very frustrating. Lately the replay hasn’t gone our way on a few of these.”
The Mariners just had to score five runs a different way.
James Paxton pitched a solid game, keeping the Indians scoreless until two outs in the fifth inning, when he tried to power four consecutive 98-mph fastballs past former Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso.
Alonso seems to have his former teammate pretty figured out. He sent the ninth pitch of the at-bat over the wall in right field for a two-run home run after hitting a grand slam on Paxton when the Indians played at Safeco Field in the season-opening series.
“I needed to go something else there 3-2,” Paxton said, “(maybe an) offspeed pitch or even a two-seam just to give him a different look. He’s a good player. You give him four fastballs in a row and he’s going to barrel one up eventually.”
But Paxton pitched through six innings – the Mariners’ third consecutive game with their starter lasting six innings (after six in a row with their starter going fewer than six). He tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts, allowing five hits and the two runs.
But welcome back, Healy.
And welcome, for the first time, a fully healthy Mariners lineup.
Healy had the Mariners’ first hit of the game with a single up the middle with two outs in the third inning in his first major-league at-bat since April 7, the same day he sprained his ankle in a postgame workout in Minnesota and subsequently headed to the disabled list.
Healy finished 1-for-4 and was impressive defensively, too.
“It’s nice to have the guys back, all of them, back out there,” Servais said. “With the length of our lineup, once we get rolling we have the opportunity to string five, six hits together. And that’s what we needed tonight.”
But after Healy’s hit, Dee Gordon then did what Gordon does – run really, really fast.
He sent a line drive to left-center field, and the 30-year-old was clocked racing from home to third base in 10.86 seconds, according to Statcast, while scoring Healy on the play.
But the Mariners weren’t done. Jean Segura followed with an RBI double, and he scored on Cano’s single for a 3-0 lead.
The Mariners had taken a 4-0 lead when Mike Zunino scored Kyle Seager on an opposite-way single, one day after Zunino’s go-ahead home run led to a 4-3 win over the White Sox.