One day after their breakout nine-run performance, the Seattle Mariners put their attack back on ice Thursday afternoon in a 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
The Mariners, for the second time in less than two weeks, had no answer for retread right-hander Shaun Marcum, who yielded just two hits in seven innings before the Indians went to their bullpen.
“You’ve got to stay back on his fastball, and even more back on his off-speed stuff,” said first baseman Logan Morrison, whose career-best hitting streak ended at 16 games.
“He hit his spots — 82-83 (mph) sinking down and away from you on the outside corner is hard to hit.”
Marcum (3-1) didn’t allow a runner until he opened the fourth inning by hitting Morrison. The Mariners didn’t get their first hit until Mark Trumbo pulled a one-out grounder through the left side in the fifth inning.
“It was nice to go out there and be able to locate the ball,” Marcum said, “and take what I’ve been doing between starts and actually have it happen.”
He also gave up a leadoff double in the seventh to Robinson Cano but retired the next three batters. Zach McAllister and Cody Allen completed the shutout over the final two innings.
Mariners starter J.A. Happ, in contrast, threw 77 pitches before exiting after only 21/3 innings. He never found a put-away pitch while battling umpire C.B. Bucknor’s strike zone.
“I had a lot of pitches (called for balls that were) close to the strike zone,” Happ said, “and they fouled a lot of pitches off. That was the difference, I guess.”
It was just 2-0 when Happ left, but Cleveland added three more runs in the third before Tom Wilhelmsen ended the inning.
So ended the Mariners’ streak of eight quality starts in a row (at least six innings and no more than three earned runs) from their rotation and, pretty much, any chance for a three-game sweep.
For all that, the Mariners chose not to see this as a step back in their ongoing effort to get their attack untracked. Wednesday’s 9-3 victory marked the first time in 14 games that they scored more than three runs.
“We swung the bats good today,” Morrison said. “Just nothing to show for it. We crushed the ball into the wind a couple of times.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon added: “We hit some balls hard, but the wind was blowing in. On a regular day, we’d probably have three home runs.”
The wind was blowing straight in from center at 14 mph and, no question, had an effect. But it was Marcum, the Mariners acknowledged, who had the bigger impact.
“He stayed on the corners with a bunch of different pitches,” shortstop Brad Miller said. “I saw every different pitch, and I saw it in and out and up and down. I think that was the same for everybody.
“It was on the corners. That’s for sure.”
Marcum, 33, battled shoulder and elbow injuries throughout much of his nine-year career. He pitched just 17 innings last season because of shoulder problems, but this was his fourth quality start in his past five outings.
This one had a bad vibe from the start.
Happ (3-2) labored through a 29-pitch first inning but stranded runners at first and third by striking out Yan Gomes.
The Indians broke through in the second.
Brandon Moss led off with a double into the right-center gap and scored the game’s first run when Zach Walters blooped a one-out single into right.
Happ limited the damage to one run, but he threw 37 more pitches in the inning.
The game got away in the third inning.
Singles by Michael Brantley and Ryan Raburn put runners at first and second with no outs. Happ struck out Gomes, but Moss flicked an RBI single into center field.
McClendon went to the bullpen for Wilhelmsen in an effort to stop the bleeding, but that didn’t work. Giovanny Urshela grounded an RBI single through the left side for his first major league hit.
The Indians led, 3-0.
Wilhelmsen struck out Walters, but the swinging strike-three pitch also crossed up catcher Mike Zunino. The ball hit Zunino in the finger and caromed away for a passed ball that moved the runners to second and third.
That proved costly when Roberto Perez pushed a soft liner to left for a two-run single that made it 5-0 before Wilhelmsen ended the inning. Happ’s final line showed four runs and six hits in 21/3 innings.
Urshela’s second major league hit was a two-out homer in the fifth against Vidal Nuno that extended Cleveland’s lead to 6-0.