CLEVELAND -- There is no need to worry about matchups when Andrew Miller emerges from the Indians' bullpen. Unfortunately for Cleveland, Miller's trip to the disabled list has altered the automatic feel to late innings.
Prior to the Indians' 5-4 loss to the Mariners on Thursday, Miller was shelved with a left hamstring strain that will hopefully only cost him the requisite 10 days. A few hours later, the Tribe bullpen could not preserve the tie in a critical eighth inning, but that did not shake the team's confidence in the rest of the relief corps.
"His numbers are pretty ridiculous," Indians starter Mike Clevinger said of Miller. "But, if you erased all of his numbers and [looked at] our bullpen's numbers, it's still pretty remarkable. You want that shutdown inning that you know he gives you every time -- or two shutdown innings -- but we have the guys to do it."
Without Miller, Indians manager Terry Francona will need to mix and match the remainder of his relievers. In the eighth, Francona leaned on Dan Otero, Jeff Beliveau and Nicholas Goody against the meat of the Mariners' order. Otero and Beliveau retired the only hitters they faced in the frame, but Goody flinched, surrendering back-to-back doubles to Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager that put Seattle ahead for good.
Goody had Cruz in an 0-2 count before eventually throwing a 2-2 slider low in the zone, where it met the slugger's bat and then soared to the wall in left. Seager followed by ripping a 1-1 fastball to left as well, scoring Cruz for the decisive run.
"I probably should have put [Cruz] away a little sooner. That's on me," Goody said. "I need to execute a little bit better. It wasn't a bad pitch. He went down and got it. It wasn't a good pitch, but I feel good. I felt good. I feel fine now. I'll be ready to go tomorrow. It's part of the game."
Thanks to a late push by Cleveland's lineup, Clevinger walked away with a no-decision after allowing four runs on eight hits in six-plus innings. Three runs came in the third inning, which was highlighted by an RBI triple off the bat of Dee Gordon. Clevinger, who has a 2.56 ERA on the year, ended with five strikeouts and a walk.
"Three or four hitters in a row, balls caught way too much of the plate and he paid for it," Francona said. "Other than that, he did pretty good. We ended up getting our 'pen up in the fourth and he ended up pitching effectively a couple more innings."
Mariners lefty James Paxton tied a career high with 10 strikeouts in his six innings, but also left without a decision. Paxton cruised through the first five innings -- holding Cleveland to a 3-for-18 showing in that stretch -- before giving up a two-run home run to Yonder Alonso in the sixth.
In the seventh, Jason Kipnis and Edwin Encarnacion contributed run-scoring hits against the Mariners' bullpen to pull the game into a 4-4 deadlock. Under normal circumstances, that may have been Miller's moment to enter, with the goal of buying time for Cleveland's offense and bridging the gap to closer Cody Allen.
Day 1 without Miller did not go as smoothly as the Tribe would have hoped.
"I know they have confidence in me -- that's all I can ask for," Goody said. "I've got to go out and execute. I didn't tonight, but tomorrow's a new day. I'll be available tomorrow. So will everybody else."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yonder vs. Paxton: Alonso entered Thursday hitting .154 with a .599 OPS in 28 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this season, after having a .679 OPS against lefties last year. The lefty-swinging first baseman has had a strong showing against Paxton in a small sample, though. On Thursday, Alonso went 2-for-3, including the two-run homer, against the Seattle southpaw. He's now gone 3-for-8 with two homers and two walks in his career vs. Paxton.
"Even against lefties, when Yonder doesn't go out of the zone and he can get himself in fastball counts -- it doesn't mean he just has to hit a fastball -- but just getting the ball up, he's really dangerous," Francona said.
Seven-pitch slip: Coming off a shutout on the road against the Orioles in his last start, Clevinger opened Thursday's outing by retiring the eight Mariners in order. Then the right-hander allowed three runs in a span of seven pitches. Ryon Healy (single), Gordon (RBI triple), Jean Segura (RBI double) and Robinson Cano (RBI single) all came through in succession against Clevinger.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With two outs in the fifth, Cano lifted the first pitch he saw from Clevinger over left-center, where the ball looked at first glance to have struck the railing above the 19-foot wall. The shot was initially ruled a home run for the Seattle second baseman, but it was examined more closely via a crew-chief review. The home run was overturned after replays appeared to show the ball striking the yellow line atop the wall before bouncing back into play. Cano was given a double and Clevinger responded by striking out Cruz to escape the inning.
HE SAID IT
"Oh my goodness, he's got great stuff. Velocity's up to 97 [mph] with an angle to it. I look at his numbers and it just doesn't match what you see coming out of his arm." -- Francona, on Paxton
Indians ace Corey Kluber will take the mound on Friday, when the Tribe hosts the Mariners in a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. Since the start of last year, Kluber is 11-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 122 2/3 innings at home. Seattle will send righty Erasmo Ramirez to the hill.