SEATTLE — The mistake Drew Stubbs made was overthinking.
Representing the tying run for Cleveland and standing at third base in the ninth inning with no outs, Stubbs had all the scenarios ready in his mind. When Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager threw down to second base to get the first out of the inning there, Stubbs knew he should have immediately broke for home and relied on his speed.
Instead — he hesitated.
“It’s a play you’ve got to run through scenarios in your head and make your mind up and go with it,” Stubbs said. “Any slight hesitation is going to cost you like it did.”
Stubbs’ miscue capped a night of mistakes for the Indians in a 4-3 loss to the Mariners that extended Seattle’s win streak to eight games, currently the longest in baseball.
Stubbs was on the back end of an unlikely ninth inning double play when it seemed Cleveland would at the very least pull even. Instead, the Indians were left looking at a fourth loss in five games after the All-Star break.
“We’re just not playing very clean right now. When you get to this point of the year, getting into the grind of the season now, good teams buckle down and make plays,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “That’s what I think we can be is a good team. We just need to play better.”
The ninth started promising for Cleveland.
Mark Reynolds singling on the first pitch of the inning off Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen. Stubbs came on to pinch run and went racing to third on Lonnie Chisenhall’s single up the middle to put runners on the corners with no outs.
That’s when the craziness began.
Yan Gomes hit a chopper to third. Seager briefly looked at Stubbs and quickly threw to second to get pinch runner Mike Aviles. Stubbs found himself unsure whether to sprint for the plate or stay at third. When he started to break for home, Nick Franklin was already throwing home. Stubbs was caught in a run down and eventually tagged out by shortstop Brad Miller.
It was a fundamentally solid play mostly by a group of Seattle players that haven’t been in the big leagues for very long.
“Our young guys right there, the way they executed that was quite impressive, starting with Seager and then Franklin and Miller getting over there. That’s not an easy guy to track down either,” said Seattle bench coach Robby Thompson, who filled in again for ailing Mariners manager Eric Wedge. “It was great court awareness, if you would, for the young guys.”
Stubbs said he never should have hesitated once Seager threw to second.
“The only thing that didn’t work was he needed to keep going. … He just probably needed to keep going and we’ll take our chances,” Francona said.
Wilhelmsen then struck out Michael Bourn looking to end it.
“That’s what winning is about, is taking advantage of those opportunities and we’re starting to do that more times than not as of late,” Wilhelmsen said.
While the wild finish took the attention, there were other problems for the Indians to worry about. Cleveland committed three errors in the first two innings, and allowed an unearned run in the first.
Zach McAllister (4-6) made his first start since June 2 after spending more than a month on the disabled list with a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand. McAllister threw 109 pitches in just five innings, allowed eight hits and lost his third straight decision. He was knocked around in the third inning when Seattle got doubles from Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales and Michael Saunders. But it was a wild pitch that allowed Seager to score the tying run from third and Mike Zunino followed with a two-out single to score Saunders with what proved to be the winning run.
“It was nice to take the ball,” McAllister said. “My finger felt good. I felt under control. That one inning kind of hurt me a little bit.”
Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez and a pair of relievers made the one-run lead stand up. Ramirez (1-0) pitched 5 2-3 innings, before giving way to Yoervis Medina, who threw 2 1-3 innings allowing just one hit. Wilhelmsen’s wild ninth was good enough for his 23rd save.
Ramirez gave up a two-run homer to Gomes in the second, but allowed only one baserunner past first base the rest of the night.
NOTES: Cleveland’s three errors matched its season high, done on two other occasions this season. … Seattle sent reliever Bobby LaFromboise to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday to clear a roster spot for Ramirez to make the start. … Three of Gomes’ seven homers this season have come against Seattle.