Lefty James Pazos was building a strong spring case for a spot in the Mariners’ bullpen…until the fourth inning Tuesday night against Cleveland at Peoria Stadium.
Pazos gave up five runs, fueled by his own error, in what turned into a 14-6 loss to the Indians. Pazos had previously worked three scoreless one-inning appearances.
Doubles by Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion started Pazos’ troubles before he put another runner on base with an error. Francisco Mejia then delivered a two-run single before Erik Kratz clubbed a two-run homer.
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There was lots of other bad stuff, too.
After the Mariners got three runs back in the fifth against Brian Shaw, Cleveland countered with five unearned runs in the sixth inning for a 10-3 lead. Ramirez capped the burst with a three-run homer against Zac Curtis.
The Mariners (7-5) then scored twice in their sixth, but Curtis allowed the Indians to load the bases with no outs in the seventh before serving up a grand slam to Adam Moore. The Tribe led 14-5.
It was ugly for much of the night.
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma pitched two scoreless innings by working around Bradley Zimmer’s leadoff double in the second. Iwakuma gave up the one hit, while walking one and striking out two.
PLAY OF THE GAME: If shortstop Taylor Motter catches Kratz’s one-out liner in the sixth, then Ryan Weber would have escaped with a scoreless inning. But Motter dropped the ball. Even then, he had a chance to get Kratz at first, but Motter lost his footing. The play was charitably scored a single. The Indians scored five two-out runs in the inning.
PLUS: Lefty Ariel Miranda worked one scoreless inning with two strikeouts after replacing Iwakuma. It was Miranda’s first relief outing after two starts, but he’s scheduled for a three-inning start Sunday against the Angels…Kyle Seager had a single, a double and walk in four plate appearances.
MINUS: Danny Valencia went 0-for-3 as the designated hitter and is now 3-for-21…Curtis has a forgettable night. He faced six batters and gave up five runs.
STAT PACK: The Mariners had three errors and gave up six unearned runs.
SPRING BATTLES: It was a tough sixth inning Motter. Not only did he fail to hold Kratz’s one-out liner, he also threw away a two-out grounder later in the inning for a two-run error…utilityman Mike Freeman started at second base and had a fielding error in Cleveland’s five-run fourth but also delivered an RBI single in three at-bats…reliever Casey Fien had a one-two-three eighth inning.
QUOTABLE: Iwakuma worked just two innings for a second straight start, although he is slotted for three innings Monday against Milwaukee in Maryvale.
"It’s still early," he said. "I have a couple of more games to go. I’m sure I’ll go longer and build my arm strength. But for now, two innings is good for me."
SHORT HOPS: It was 20 years ago Wednesday — March 8, 1997 — that thousands of fans watched Ken Griffey Jr. help break ground for a new ballpark that would become Safeco Field…lefty Drew Smyly will pitch one simulated inning Thursday to stay sharp before leaving to join the United States team in the World Baseball Classic…
UP NEXT: The Mariners play the first of two straight games against the Chicago Cubs when they journey Thursday to Mesa for a 12:05 p.m. Pacific time game at Sloan Park.
Lefty James Paxton is scheduled to pitch three innings in his second spring appearance. Also scheduled: Christian Bergman, Jonathan Aro, Micah Owings, Evan Scribner, Dillon Overton and Jean Machi.
The Cubs plan to start former Mariners lefty Mike Montgomery. No TV and game will be broadcast on a delayed basis by 710 ESPN at 7 p.m. You can hear the game live on mariners.com.
The Mariners and Cubs play again at 12:10 p.m. Pacific time Friday at Peoria Stadium. Right-hander Chris Heston is scheduled to start against Chicago right-hander Kyle Hendricks.
DAYS LEFT UNTIL OPENING DAY: 25
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners