Indians-Mariners Preview

After a rough April, the Cleveland Indians are about to conclude a successful May.

They'll do so by trying to win a third straight road series Sunday against the Seattle Mariners.

Cleveland (23-26) hit .238, averaged 3.8 runs and posted a 4.54 ERA while going 7-14 in April, but is batting .260, scoring 5.0 per contest and sporting a 3.73 ERA to go 16-12 this month. Jerry Sands hit a two-run homer and Shaun Marcum yielded two runs to improve to 2-0 as the Indians won for the seventh time in 10 road contests, 4-3 on Saturday.

Recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Thursday, Sands is 9 for 24 with six RBIs in 10 games this season.

''I was ready to play since I got here and whenever they called my number I was ready to get in there and help this team,'' said Sands, who played in 12 games for Tampa Bay last season.

It's uncertain how long he'll be around with first baseman Carlos Santana expected to be available Sunday after missing the last three games while on paternity leave.

"Everything is good," manager Terry Francona told MLB's official website. "I think (Santana's) comfortable. So, he's good to go. ... He was like, 'No, I'll be there.'"

Santana has two home runs and six RBIs in his last six contests.

Teammate Jason Kipnis' nine-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-4 night, but the second baseman still leads the majors with a .430 average in May. His 49 hits this month are the most in one month in the majors since Melky Cabrera had 51 in May 2012 with San Francisco.

"He's attacking every game," Francona said. "He's in the middle of everything."

Cleveland's Danny Salazar (5-1, 3.65 ERA) doesn't appear to have any lingering issues from a cut on his middle finger suffered while not factoring in the decision of Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Texas.

"It really bothers him on his offspeed pitches," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "He really kind of yanks on that part of the finger."

The right-hander allowed only a three-run homer in the fifth that ended his 10 1-3-inning scoreless run. With six strikeouts over 5 2-3 innings of work, Salazar leads the majors in strikeouts per 9 innings (12.04).

He is making his first appearance against the Mariners (24-25), who can record a winning May by finishing 15-13 with a victory.

Robinson Cano homered for the first time since April 14 with a two-run shot in the third inning Saturday but Seattle stranded nine and went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

"We just couldn't get the big hits when we needed them," manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Cano, who did not start Thursday or Friday because of the flu, is 6 for 17 in his last five after going 0 for 11 in the previous three.

After J.A. Happ (3-1, 3.71) allowed seven runs in eight-plus innings over his last two starts - both on the road - he should be eager to take the mound at Safeco Field, where he's 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four outings.

The left-hander went 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA as a starter versus Cleveland while pitching for Houston and Toronto.


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