Mariners rookie left-hander Roenis Elias will certainly have ample reason to miss June, a month in which he's gone 4-1 with a 3.21 ERA in five starts.
On Saturday night, he goes for his third consecutive win when he faces the Indians at Safeco Field.
Elias, who is Cuban-born, felt right at home in his last start, when he scattered five hits, two walks and a run over 6 2/3 innings in a 2-1 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The temperature was 90 degrees at game time.
"The sun here is the same sun there is in Cuba," Elias said afterward through a translator. "In Cuba, I pitch like that. I have no problem with the heat."
Elias has had no problem making the jump to the Major Leagues after earning Southern League All-Star honors in 2013 with Double-A Jackson. Exuding a quiet confidence since he arrived as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, Elias pitched his way into the rotation after injuries to pitcher Taijuan Walker (right shoulder) and No. 2 starter Hisashi Iwakuma (right index finger). At the first half of the season comes to a close Saturday, he's solidified his place on the Mariners 25-man roster.
In 16 starts, Elias has a 7-5 record and 3.74 ERA.
Opposing Elias is Indians starter Josh Tomlin (4-5, 4.39 ERA), a 29-year-old right-hander who missed most of last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery and began this season with Triple-A Columbus before being recalled to face the Twins on May 6.
In his past three starts, he's 0-3 with a 7.80 ERA while opponents are boasting a 1.102 OPS. His nadir came earlier this week against the Tigers when he allowed eight runs, five earned, on eight hits and two walks in four-plus innings, as the Indians fell to Detroit, 10-4.
Tomlin failed to record an out in Detroit's seven-run, fifth-inning, in part because Cleveland's defense committed two errors. Afterward, Tomlin admitted he didn't do a good job of limiting the damage.
"I thought the first couple hitters he was real good," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "They made him work every inning and, finally, when things broke through, our defense kind of collapsed at the same time."
Indians: Handling Swisher
Francona is doing all he can to try to get Nick Swisher going again offensively. Swisher (sidelined earlier this month with a knee injury) has served as a designated hitter lately and was dropped to the eighth spot in the order on Friday, going 1-for-3 with a run scored. The 33-year-old veteran had not started a game in the eighth hole of a lineup since May 28, 2011, with the Yankees.
"You're always trying to think about your team and the players," Francona said. "I think what you try to do, ultimately, is put your team in the best position to succeed and make sure the players understand and know that you have their interest [in mind], but the team has to always come first."
Mariners: Paxton Making Strides in rehab
On Friday, Mariners left-hander James Paxton threw his first bullpen session since feeling soreness in his left triceps and upper arm after a rehab start with Triple-A Tacoma on May 24.
His bullpen totaled 25 pitches.
"The first 10 were with the catcher on the plate. The last 15 he was back in normal position and I was throwing fastballs, four-seam, two-seam and the changeup," Paxton said. "It all felt really good, felt really smooth. The ball was at the bottom of the zone so it was good."
Paxton will likely throw another bullpen Monday, he said, then another sometime next week before graduating to simulated games. Barring setbacks, after that, he'll head out on a rehab assignment.
The Richmond, British Columbia, product is 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA in six career starts. In 2014, he is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA but a strained lat muscle June 8 forced him to leave his second start. He hasn't pitched in a Major League game since.
Paxton doesn't have a timetable for his return.
"We just haven't really got to that point yet," he said.
• Elias is just the third Cuban-born pitcher in Mariners history. The other two are pitcher Diego Segui, who played 40 games with Seattle in 1977, and Tony Fossas, who appeared in 23 games with the Mariners in 1998.
• The Indians have lost five of their last six games after dropping the series opener on Friday, 3-2. The Mariners, meanwhile, have won six of their last seven and nine of their last 12.
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.