Ray eats bug, Mariners win 6th in row, 4-0 over Guardians

CLEVELAND (AP) — Robbie Ray swallowed a bug, and ate up the Guardians again.

Ray started September the way he finished August with six solid innings as the Seattle Mariners won their sixth straight, 4-0 on Saturday night over a slumping Cleveland club searching for a spark.

Ray (12-8), who won the AL Cy Young Award last year with Toronto, went 3-0 in five starts last month. The left-hander allowed six hits, but not a costly one against Cleveland. He pitched seven scoreless innings against the AL Central-leading Guardians in a win last week.

Early in this outing, Ray was between pitches when a bug flew into this mouth.

“I ate one about a month ago in the backyard playing with the kids but never in a game before,” he said, smiling. “It kind of just went all the way down. I was taking a deep breath in and just sucked it in. It caught me off guard a little bit.

“That’s a first for sure.”

After Ray through 87 pitches on a heavy, humid night, Seattle’s bullpen took over and finished off the shutout with Matt Brash, Andrés Muñoz and Paul Sewald working one inning apiece.

Seattle, trying to end a 20-season playoff drought, currently holds one of the AL’s three wild-card spots and has won 13 of 17.

The Guardians lost their fourth straight and have been shut out in three of them. They’ve scored just one run in their last four games and have failed to score in four of six.

Fortunately for the Guardians, they’re still leading the division by one game over Minnesota, which was beaten 13-0 by the suddenly surging Chicago White Sox, who are only two back.

Cleveland had some chances, but stranded nine runners and hit a few balls right at Seattle fielders.

Manager Terry Francona isn’t panicking.

“I do know the best way to get out of it is just to keep battling like crazy,” he said. ”Give yourself enough chances. We’ll get it. We’ll figure it out. It’s not a whole lot of fun right now. No one’s showing up to not score and lose.

“But the only way I know to do it right is to just to keep fighting and keep clawing and don’t give up.”

Mariners first baseman Ty France homered in the first inning off rookie Xzavion Curry (0-1), who struggled with control in his second career start and was pulled in the fifth after walking the bases loaded.

The Guardians put together two threats against Ray, but he was able to work out of them both times — retiring rookie Tyler Freeman twice.

After giving up a pair of singles in the third, Ray got Freeman to bounce into an inning-ending double play. Then with runners at first and third and two outs in the fifth, Ray struck out Freeman with All-Star José Ramírez waiting on deck.

“They put the ball in play and I just felt like tonight we were able to make them hit the pitches that I wanted them to hit,” Ray said. “The big double play there was huge and a couple timely strikeouts. But for the most part, it was them hitting balls at guys.”

France put the Mariners up 1-0 just seven pitches into the game with his 18th homer, a towering shot onto the pedestrian plaza in left field.

Seattle added an unearned run in the second, set up by two walks and fielding error, when Curry walked Mitch Haniger with the bases full to force in a run. The Mariners, however, blew a chance for a big inning when Eugenio Suárez lined to third.

Curry couldn’t find the plate in the fifth, walking three straight before manager Terry Francona took the ball. Cal Raleigh then delivered an RBI single off Nick Sandlin, who walked J.P. Crawford to put the Mariners up 4-0.

That was more than enough for Ray, who followed a solid outing by Luis Castillo with one of his own. In four starts against Cleveland in the last week, Ray and Castillo have allowed one run in 25 innings with 24 strikeouts.

Ray agreed that he and Castillo can be a lethal combo in the postseason.

“You’ve seen what he’s done and I feel like us back to back is a good combination against anybody,” he said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (broken hand) will be re-examined in one week. Dr. Thomas Graham concurred with the team’s diagnosis of a non-displaced fracture and suggested Plesac kept his hand immobilized in a splint. Plesac got hurt when he punched the ground in frustration after giving up a homer in Seattle last week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP George Kirby (6-3, 3.16 ERA) was the AL’s Rookie of the Month for August, going 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts. Kirby has walked one or fewer batters in each of his 19 starts, the longest streak to begin a career in history.

Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (11-5, 3.50) is unbeaten since July 5 — a span of 10 starts — and has been Cleveland’s most dependable starter. He’s 12-0 in 39 career games at Progressive Field and has gone 31 straight home starts without a loss.

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