SEATTLE (AP) — Zach Plesac’s day started with a frantic search for a pair of cleats after learning he’d left his normal road spikes behind in Cleveland.
After a replacement pair was found, Plesac came within six outs of ending the longest no-hitter drought in the majors.
“I felt the energy of it happening,” Plesac said. “You could feel it in the air, really.”
Plesac took his no-hit bid into the eighth inning, nearly throwing Cleveland’s first no-no in 40 years, and the Indians held on for a 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
The anticipated debuts of Seattle prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert were overshadowed by a masterful pitching performance from Plesac.
His attempt at Cleveland’s first no-hitter since 1981 ended when J.P. Crawford led off the eighth with a line-drive single that just cleared the glove of leaping shortstop Amed Rosario. It came on a changeup that had baffled Seattle’s hitters for most of the night.
This one stayed up in the zone and ended Plesac’s shot at history.
“I made a couple good pitches to J.P., and then my change, it was working for me all night so I felt comfortable throwing it,” Plesac said. “But I just kind of spun through instead of getting through and it kind of stayed over the plate, allowed him to get the bat on it.”
Plesac (3-3) lost the shutout moments later when Dylan Moore hit a two-run homer. That sent the Indians’ bullpen into a frenzy to get ready.
Moore’s homer was his fourth of the season and one of the few hard-hit balls all night against Plesac. While he wasn’t overpowering, the right-hander managed to induce weak contact for most of the first seven innings.
He escaped the eighth after a lineout from Evan White and Kelenic’s deep flyout to left-center. Plesac finished with two strikeouts and three walks on 96 pitches.
“For about seven innings he was about as good as you can be throwing all his pitches for strikes,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.
Cleveland’s last no-hitter was Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981 against Toronto. The Indians have been no-hit twice already this season, by Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodón on April 14 and Cincinnati lefty Wade Miley a week ago. Plesac started both those games.
Seattle’s slumping offense threatened in the ninth after Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase walked three straight batters with two outs to load the bases. Bryan Shaw struck out Luis Torrens for his first save since 2019 with Colorado.
Plesac got all the offense he needed on home runs from Frammil Reyes and José Ramírez. Reyes hit his ninth of the season in the second inning and Ramírez added his AL-leading 11th in the third, a two-run shot. Jake Bauers also had an RBI single.
For much of the night, it appeared Seattle would go down in infamy by getting no-hit in consecutive home games. Baltimore’s John Means stymied the Mariners on May 5, barely missing out on a perfect game against Seattle.
The Mariners left on a road trip but their hitting woes at home remained. Seattle went 16 innings at home without a hit before Crawford’s single.
“It’s different things for different guys. Some guys maybe a little bit too passive. Other guys maybe a little too aggressive,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “It’s not just a blanket you can throw over the whole group, but it needs to improve.”
Gilbert (0-1) lasted four innings, throwing 71 pitches, and struck out five. Seattle was going to limit Gilbert to around 85 pitches and was hoping to get him into the fifth. The 24-year-old right-hander threw plenty of strikes and flashed a good mix of breaking pitches to go with his fastball.
“I definitely feel like I belong here and my stuff plays up here,” Gilbert said.
Kelenic was hitless in four at-bats. He flied out on the first pitch of his first at-bat, with right fielder Josh Naylor falling into the stands as he caught the ball in foul territory.
The Indians have 85% of their club vaccinated, which has allowed them to ease up on some of MLB’s COVID-19 protocols.
It might take some getting used to.
“They’ve relaxed some things that guys are allowed to do and we’re allowed to do in the dugout,” Francona said. “There’s still protocols when you’re in the clubhouse or at the hotel. There’s things you still have to follow. But it felt good to be in the dugout and not have a mask on. It felt like kind of naked, like you had your zipper down or something because it was so different.”
Indians: Aaron Civale (5-0, 2.91 ERA) looks to remain unbeaten this season. Civale has thrown at least seven innings in four of his seven starts, including his last against Cincinnati when he allowed only one run.
Mariners: RHP Chris Flexen (3-1, 3.78) makes his seventh start. Flexen earned his third victory in his last start against Texas, throwing 6 1/3 innings and permitting four runs.
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