CLEVELAND -- Even when the Indians were one out away from defeat Friday night, they could sense a rally coming. That's just how the mind works when you've won 10 games in a row. But when Grady Sizemore grounded out to second to make that last out against Mariners closer J.J. Putz, the result was an unfamiliar one. It was, officially, a 3-2 loss in front of 26,047 at Progressive Field -- the Tribe's first defeat since Aug. 16 and the end of the club's longest winning streak since April of 2002.
"You felt it all the way up until Grady's at-bat there that somebody was going to do something," manager Eric Wedge said. "That's the way things have been going for us. But [the Mariners] did a good job against us." Taming the Indians' lineup over the previous 10 games was a job many a pitcher struggled with. After all, the Tribe did average 7.3 runs over the course of the streak. And while a Mariners team more than 30 games under .500 seemed a good place to find win No. 11, Felix Hernandez and the Mariners' bullpen had other plans. Hernandez limited the Indians to a pair of runs on six hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. The Indians had a baserunner on against him in each of his six innings of work, but all they could muster was Jamey Carroll's RBI groundout in the third and Shin-Soo Choo's RBI double off the left-field wall in the fourth. "[Hernandez] had a good sinker, a tight curveball and a good changeup," catcher Kelly Shoppach said. "He commanded all of those." Tribe starter Jeremy Sowers didn't have that type of command on a night in which he needed 95 pitches to get through just five innings. Sowers had trouble with his offspeed and breaking pitches and had to rely almost entirely on his fastball. To his credit, he limited the damage to three runs on seven hits with no walks or strikeouts. In that sense, this outing was certainly an improvement on Sowers' last, when he gave up seven runs in just 3 2/3 innings against the Rangers. "Fortunately today, I did a better job getting out of trouble than last time," Sowers said. "[In the last start], I let the game speed up on me. Tonight was a different story." But when Sowers faced Raul Ibanez in the third, it was the same story as when the two met on July 19 at Safeco Field. Ibanez took Sowers deep -- this time with a two-run homer to left that put the Mariners up, 3-0. By the time Sowers finished his five and fly, the Indians had trimmed that deficit with one via their pair of runs off Hernandez. Sowers, no stranger to what's transpired with the Tribe the last two weeks, certainly wasn't expecting to take a loss. "I never would have thought we were not going to score any more runs," he said, "because of the way we've been hitting." While the hits kept coming in this loss, the big hit did not. The Tribe had Sizemore at third with only one out in the third, but David Dellucci struck out and Jhonny Peralta flew out to end that inning. In the fourth, Choo knocked in that run with a double but got caught trying to steal third. And in the eighth, with reliever Roy Corcoran on the mound, the Indians had a Dellucci single negated by the third double play turned by the M's, and Franklin Gutierrez flew out with runners on the corners. "We were one hit away too many times," Wedge said. "That was the difference in the ballgame. We weren't able to finish innings off." Strong outings from relievers Juan Rincon, Brendan Donnelly and Ed Mujica kept the Indians in the game, but Putz finished them off with a perfect ninth. All things must pass, of course, and so it was with the 10-game streak. "We were kind of due to come up with a couple tough breaks," Sowers said.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.