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Cleveland Indians (21-25) vs. Seattle Mariners (23-23) 7:10 PM PST
Kluber: The recipient of Felix Hernandez‘s second Cy Young award last season will face a Seattle Mariners lineup that won a couple of tight, low-scoring games in the sweep of Tampa Bay. The “Klubot” will bring his average 3.52 ERA and good-looking strikeout rate to Safeco looking to improve on his five-loss record. I am going to be totally honest here, I don’t like thieves, and Corey Kluber stole a Cy Young award from our King in 2014. Hopefully the Mariners can find Kluber’s battery and shut down the machine tonight.
May 23, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton (65) delivers a pitch against Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Paxton: At the beginning of the season, the two youngsters, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, were struggling. Both were walking far too many batters and getting hit too hard. Well, after a couple of starts, James Paxton began to establish his power fastball in the strike zone, and Taijuan Walker didn’t. After posting an 8.40 ERA over his first three starts, Paxton has been much more like himself, with a 1.63 ERA over 38.2 innings in the six starts following. His fellow flamethrower Taijuan has not been able to make such adjustments, with a 5.94 ERA over only 30.1 innings in his last six starts. Walker clearly needs some time down in AAA Tacoma to get things figured out, which is why I think he will be involved in the roster moves that will be made soon to address the Mariners’ current six-man bullpen situation. Paxton on the other hand will bring in a career 2.31 ERA at Safeco Field, and should hopefully dominate for the M’s tonight.
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1. Jason Kipnis 2B
2. Mike Aviles 3B
3. Michael Brantley LF
4. Ryan Raburn RF
5. Nick Swisher DH
6. Yan Gomes C
7. Brandon Moss 1B
8. Jose Ramirez SS
9. Michael Bourn CF
Notes: Although the Indians are 21-25, their lineup has been quite solid in 2015. In fact, the Indians’ one through four hitters are all batting above .300, with leadoff man Jason Kipnis posting a .342 average, five homers, 22 RBI and five stolen bases. Kipnis has been great this season, making a strong case for his second All-Star Game appearance. Former Oakland Athletic Brandon Moss has slugged seven homers and drove in 22 runs this season despite his .219 average. Right-handed hitters Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn will look to do some damage on James Paxton tonight. The good news for Pax and the Seattle Mariners is that the three top RBI men for Cleveland are all left-handed hitters.
May 24, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Seattle Mariners first basemanLogan Morrison
(20) during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
1. Austin Jackson CF
2. Seth Smith RF
3. Nelson Cruz DH
4. Kyle Seager 3B
5. Logan Morrison 1B
6. Brad Miller 2B
7. Dustin Ackley LF
8. Chris Taylor SS
9. Mike Zunino C
Notes: The first thing that one notices about this lineup is the absence of Robinson Cano for the first time this season. Brad Miller will get the start at second base for Robbie, and Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager will move on up to three and four in the order. It is definitely not ideal to have your seven, eight and nine hitters all batting under .200, but we know that Ackley, Taylor and Zunino can hit well. With Cano out of the lineup and last year’s Cy Young Award winner on the mound for Cleveland, Lloyd McClendon and the Mariners will need solid at-bats up and down the lineup tonight.
3 Things to Watch For:
1. LoMo Starts a Great Homestand
Logan Morrison has had an up-and-down season so far in 2015, but he has consistently hit the ball hard all year. We have seen what happens when he gets on a tear and gets some hits to start falling. From April 29 to May 8, Morrison went 15 for 35, batting .429 with four home runs and seven runs batted in. Coming into a crucial home stand, the M’s would love to see Morrison get hot like that again. Logan has picked up six hits in his last 15 at-bats, raising his batting average 17 points to .236. I expect a couple of base hits and some production tonight from the big first baseman.
Sep 16, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners playersJustin Smoak
(17) , Chris Taylor (1) and Brad Miller (5) celebrate after the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
2. Miller and Taylor Up the Middle
Apparently Lloyd McClendon was tired of all the questions surrounding Brad Miller and Chris Taylor at shortstop, so he just decided to put them both in the middle of the infield. Miller got a start at second base in the last game of the Toronto series, so perhaps this is not the last we will see of Brad in the four hole. Sergio Millar has been one of the most consistent offensive players for the Mariners this season, but is 0 for his last 15 at-bats. Taylor has hit some balls hard, but has otherwise struggled since being called up for AAA Tacoma. Look for the duo to make a couple of nice plays on defense and each pick up a knock or two tonight.
3. Let’s Turn Two!
The Seattle Mariners turned four double plays behind King Felix yesterday to help him towards his second complete game shut out of 2015. Facing a capable Cleveland Indians lineup, James Paxton may need to do the same tonight if he wants to get deep into this ballgame. The Mariners’ young Canadian lefty has not allowed more than two earned runs since April 19, and he will look to continue that trend tonight in what should be a great pitching matchup. I predict a lot of ground balls tonight off the Cleveland bats, to the tune of three important double plays.
Last Game’s Predictions:
1. Felix Dominates–HIT
James went for the easy money on this one, as Felix dominates every time he toes the rubber. Not much else to say, King Felix struck out eight batters in a complete game shut out of the Tampa Bay Rays, requiring only 101 pitches to do so. Much to his surprise, the excellent outing was enough to earn Hernandez his first career victory at Tropicana Field.
2. Mike Z Does Something Spectacular–OUT
Mike Zunino went 0 for 3 yesterday, striking out twice. The only thing spectacular about this performance by Zunino is the incredible consistency with which the young back stop is going down on strikes. Mike has struck out 51 times in 127 at-bats… To give you some perspective, Ryan Howard led the MLB in strikeouts in 2014, with 190 K’s in 569 at-bats. That is a strikeout rate of 33.4%. Zunino’s current pace is 40.2%… That Welington Castillo trade is looking smarter and smarter every day, or should I say, every “K”.
3. Carson Smith Makes ‘Em Whiff–WALK
That’s right, James drew our first walk of the season with this one. King Felix didn’t require anybody’s help yesterday, finishing off all nine innings by himself. The electric youngster Carson Smith didn’t have a chance to make anyone whiff, but I have a feeling that if given the chance, he would have done just that. So, I’ll let James off with a base on balls for this one.
Outs: 28 Hits: 19 Batting Average: .404
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