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Mashing Mariners: Seattle's youngsters rough up Tomlin, Indians in 9-2 rout
CLEVELAND (AP) ' Nobody was going to take Felix Hernandez out of the game but King Felix himself.
And the way the Seattle Mariners were hitting, there was no way he was leaving.
Hernandez shook off banging his head while trying to make a fielding play and struck out 10, Wily Mo Pena drove in four runs and the hard-hitting Mariners chased Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin in the fifth inning Wednesday in a 9-2 rout that left the Indians' playoff hopes flickering.
Hernandez (12-11) allowed two runs in six innings, and the Mariners banged out 16 hits and became the first team to knock Tomlin (12-7) out before the sixth in his career.
"For some reason, they beat us up," Indians manager Manny Acta said of the young Mariners. "They're a different team."
The last-place Mariners pounded out 51 hits while taking three of four in the series from the Indians, who dropped 6 games behind AL Central-leading Detroit.
Seattle rookie Kyle Seager, one of five first-year players in manager Eric Wedge's starting lineup, went 4 for 4 with three doubles and batted .769 (10 for 13) in the four-game series. In three games, his batting average rose from .224 to .313.
"It's probably the best 24 hours I've had in a while," Seager said. "Hopefully it will continue for a little bit and I can kind of ride the wave."
Hernandez certainly rode it to another win. On Tuesday, he joked with teammates during their 12-7 win in the second game of a doubleheader to save some runs for him. The Mariners obliged in his 200th career start, which nearly came to an early end because of his hustle.
In the third, Cleveland's Ezequiel Carrera popped up a bunt to the right side. Hernandez, listed at 6-foot-3 and a generous 225 pounds, made a diving attempt to catch it in the air. He came up a little short, and his fully extended body and head slammed down onto the grass.
Hernandez was dazed as a trainer and Wedge checked on him. The right-hander remained hunched over and seemed unsure before throwing a few warmup pitches and staying in. The Mariners continued to look him over when he came back to the dugout.
"I hit my face," Hernandez said. "I was a little bit woozy, but I was fine after that."
Hernandez scoffed at the suggestion he wouldn't continue.
"No doubt," Hernandez said. "No one was going to take me out of that game."
Wedge said there was no pressing need to pull his ace.
"He was feeling a little groggy when we went out there, but we gave him a little time and then he was feeling better," Wedge said.
Seattle pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts, raising the Indians' league-leading total to 985.
"Unacceptable," Acta said, "especially when you don't have a team loaded with sluggers."
Pena hit a two-run homer in the fourth and his two-run double in the fifth was the final blow for Tomlin, who pitched at least five innings in each of his first 37 career starts. The right-hander and current Toronto manager John Farrell are the only two pitchers since 1919 to begin their careers so consistently.
Tomlin was one strike from owning the record when the Mariners got him.
He gave up two singles, got two outs and was ahead 1-2 in the count before Miguel Olivo hit an RBI single to snap a 2-2 tie. Seager hit his third double, a ground-rule shot that made it 4-2. Pena, who homered in his previous at-bat, then laced his double to finish Tomlin.
Acta hung his head as he walked to the mound to ask Tomlin for the ball. The right-hander received a warm ovation from Cleveland's fans on his way off.
"It didn't feel good," Tomlin said of his early exit. "You don't want to leave those guys out to dry ' ever."
The Mariners came town having lost 20 of 23 road games, but their roster of youngsters showed more signs that they're growing up.
"Good series for us," Wedge said. "We got contributions from a lot of guys. I like the way we're swinging the bats. We're seeing a lot of positive things."
NOTES: The Mariners are off Thursday and will open a seven-game homestand on Friday against the White Sox. ... Seattle is 12-6 over the past four seasons in Cleveland. ... Hernandez has struck out 10 or more an AL-best seven times. Philadelphia's Cliff Lee has done it eight times. ... Pena's four RBIs were his most in a game since July 26, 2007, when he did it for the Red Sox in Cleveland. ... Mariners OF Ichiro Suzuki is batting .361 during an eight-game hitting streak. ... LHP Anthony Vasquez, who won his major league debut Tuesday, might get another start as Wedge considers a six-man rotation.