The Cleveland Indians try to avoid falling under .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season this afternoon when they play a day/night doubleheader against the Seattle Mariners at Progressive Field.
The Indians lost for the fourth straight time on Monday, as Franklin Gutierrez knocked in the eventual game-winning run in the top of the ninth with a sacrifice fly to send Seattle to a 3-2 win.
Indians closer Chris Perez (2-6) ran into trouble in the ninth by hitting Miguel Olivo and Brendan Ryan and then was unable to handle a ball hit back to the mound by Trayvon Robinson to load the bases. After a strikeout, Gutierrez lofted a fly ball to center and Ezequiel Carrera had a chance to throw out Olivo at the plate, but the throw came in high and the Mariners catcher was able to slide in safely on a bang-bang play.
Chance Ruffin (1-0) tossed one inning in relief to earn the win and Brandon League battled through a shaky bottom of the ninth to notch his 31st save.
"If I can get it to [League] without giving up any runs, it's a save for me," Ruffin said.
Cleveland, which hasn't been under .500 since it was 1-2 three games into the season, was shorthanded for the opener, as the team placed designated hitter Travis Hafner on the disabled list prior to the game with a strained foot and was also missing outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who left the team to be with his wife for the birth of their third child.
Hoping to get the Tribe back on track in the first game today will be sinkerballer Justin Masterson, who is 10-7 with a 2.71 ERA and has lost just once in his last 12 starts. Masterson won his second consecutive decision on Thursday in Chicago, as he held the White Sox to two runs and seven hits in six innings.
"Masterson had good stuff," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He just battled a little bit throughout the six innings -- got his pitch count up -- but his stuff was so good that, still, whenever he got in trouble, he could get away with it."
Masterson beat the Mariners back on April 9 and is a perfect 3-0 lifetime against them with a superb 1.21 ERA in seven games (four starts) against them.
Opposing him will be rookie right-hander Blake Beavan, who has lost his last two starts. Beavan was hit hard by Toronto on Wednesday to the tune of five runs and six hits in six innings. He also allowed three home runs for the second straight start and fell to 3-4, while raising his ERA to 4.10.
This will be his first-ever appearance against the Indians.
In the nightcap a pair of young hurlers will square off when Cleveland sends righty Zach McAllister to the hill for just the second time in his career against lefty Anthony Vazquez, who will be making his big league debut.
McAllister, 23, started against Toronto back on July 7 and surrendered three runs and five hits in four innings of a 5-4 Indians win. He was optioned back to Triple-A immediately following that outing.
The 25-year-old Vazquez, meanwhile, was 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA in Triple-A this year.
Cleveland is 4-1 against the Mariners this season.