Pitching, defense fail Mariners in Cleveland

On paper, Wednesday's pitching matchup of Seattle's Freddy Garcia versus Cleveland's Jason Davis looked like a sure-win for the Mariners. On the playing field, the results were much different.

Freddy Garcia, who's been dubbed the ace of the Mariners' pitching staff in recent seasons, entered Wednesday's game at Cleveland fresh off his worst performance as a Mariner – 2.2 innings pitched and 9 runs allowed in a blowout loss to the Yankees. Unable to get out of the third inning, he was greeted with a sea of boos – his first time as a Mariner that such a thing has happened - as he slowly paced off the Safeco Field infield.

If ever there was a chance for the 26-year-old Venezuelan to redeem himself, to silence his critics and come up with a breakout 2003 performance, it was Wednesday. The Mariners, afterall, entered the game coming off a 17-hit performance Tuesday and the struggling Indians were sending someone named Jason Davis to the hill, a 23-year-old right-hander who had never pitched above Single-A ball prior to this season.

That's why they play the game.

The Indians limited the Mariners (24-15) to four hits - Davis fanned a career-high seven batters while walking only one in seven innings of work - as Cleveland beat Seattle 7-2 at Jacobs Field.

Davis (3-4) gave up two runs, just one of the earned variety, and lowered his ERA from 7.20 to 6.21.

Meanwhile, Garcia continued his penchant for falling behind in the count and didn't show the command he's put on display in past years. The Mariners defense didn't help his cause either, committing three errors, two of which proved to be especially costly.

Already down 2-1 in the second inning with runners at second and third and one out, Cleveland's Omar Vizquel hit a nubber to John Olerud at first base. Olerud, a gold glove winner and one of the best defensive first basemen in the game, hurried to field the ball with Casey Blake streaking home but mishandled the play. Everyone was safe.

Cleveland tacked on another run on an Ellis Burks groundout to make it 4-1 at the end of three.

The error-bug came up and bit the Mariners again in the third when with two down, Carlos Guillen booted a ground ball by Blake to give the Tribe an extra out. Appearing rattled, Garcia walked the next batter, Brandon Phillips. He fell behind in the count on the next player to step up to the plate, Matt Lawton, and paid the price when Lawton laced a fastball to the right-center gap to for a two-RBI double.

Garcia (3-5) left after six innings having given up seven runs (four earned). The shaky start, his second in a row, left his ERA at 5.47 following the game.

Cleveland improved to 12-26 on the season.

Despite the loss, the Mariners stayed tied atop the AL West standings along with Oakland, who lost 2-1 to the Tigers and 32-year-old starting pitcher, Steve Avery, Wednesday.


Game Notes:

Edgar is Good: Edgar Martinez's solo homerun in the first inning was his fourth long-ball in his past six games. He now has eight on the season.

Blow out the Candles: Pat Borders, the backup catcher on the Mariners opening day roster and current backstop for Tacoma, Seattle's Triple-A affiliate, turned 40 Wednesday.

The Buzz: The recent struggles of Garcia had already drawn the attention of the Seattle sports media scene before Wednesday. He was the talk of the town all week on Sports Radio 950AM-KJR and in the local newspapers. Unfortunately, he did nothing to silence the doubters against Cleveland, and come Thursday he'll likely have more critics than a creek has frogs on a warm, rainy spring evening.


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