What a wild evening in the Pacific Northwest -- when it was all over around 1:35 a.m. ET, the Indians held on for their fourth straight win, a 9-8 comeback victory that the club could look back on at the end of April as a boost to a successful month of baseball.
Ace Justin Masterson simply did not have it, and after two impressive innings to start the game, he lost it in a blow-up fourth inning. Masterson had his sinker working in the first two innings and it looked like he would cruise through the evening, but that abruptly ended when he gave up a two-run shot to John Jaso. Then, in the fourth, he got wild and the Mariners strung together a six-run inning to blow it open and take an 8-1 lead. There was no single shot that did the damage, as early wildness and Mariner production led to the interminable inning. His ERA in this young season jumped four points when it was all said and done.
But the Indians did not get down, unbelievably coming back in the next half inning and reeling off seven runs of their own to tie it up at 8-8. And it was the bats in the middle of the order, Tribe studs Carlos Santana and Shin-Soo Choo who were the linchpins for the big inning. Choo ripped a single up the middle that brought home Jason Donald and Michael Brantley, cutting the lead to just four. Santana followed that with a three-run bomb off Kevin Millwood to bring home Choo and Jason Kipnis, cutting the lead to just one only minutes after it seemed like the game was out of reach. The bottom of the order didn't give in there, either, as Jason Donald brought home Shelley Duncan on a sac fly to tie it all up.
Donald would later provide the game-winning single in the top of the 7th, singling home to Travis Hafner for the 9-8 lead. The Indians bullpen was magnificent all evening, picking up Masterson in and putting together five-plus scoreless innings. Nick Hagadone looked good in his 2012 debut, striking out two and getting out of jam created by poor fielding. But the anchor of the pen, closer Chris Perez, danced around some trouble in the bottom of the 9th -- to say the least. The Mariner threat was due in part to wildness and in part to bad luck.
With one out, Kyle Seager ripped a single to put the tying run on. The Tribe then caught a bad break when the ball off the bat of Jesus Montero took a wicked hop bouncing up the middle, catching Donald squarely in the chin and turning a likely double play into first and second with one out. After fighting all the way back and the bullpen holding, it would have been a brutal blown save. But Perez dug down, and got out of a bases loaded jam, inducing two fly outs to end the game.
It was an awesome comeback, and heart-stopping 9th that resulted in a big exhale for Tribe fans. Game 2 against Wedge's grinders is set for 10:00 p.m. and the Tribe will throw Derek Lowe, as Seattle counters with Jason Vargas.