Angels 6 Mariners 4
As the final game of a four-game Mariners series at the Big A was about to unfold tonight, it dawned on me why this game was a must win: avoiding another losing streak. The Halos, of course, had just broken an ugly, 11-game skid via 7-6 victory over Seattle two nights ago, but having lost last night, they were up against those same ropes again. The last thing I needed in my blogging life was for them to go on another dubious run.
Luckily, the Angels had the same idea; they were not going back to those consecutive loss doldrums. They would not lose this series. No, this team stepped foot on the field tonight knowing they could not lose, because they not only had the power, the will and the determination, but they also had Hello Kitty night going on in the stadium. You just don’t lose when it’s Hello Kitty night, man.
Unlike their last win, the streak-breaker, where there were comebacks and clutch hits needed, tonight’s win was much more commanding; this was a fairly clean-burning, good baseball affair. Matt Shoemaker got the start, and pitched a cool, crisp 7.0 innings, giving up just five hits and two runs (one of which came when the ump missed what should have been a third strike on Nelson Cruz, who then hit a solo homer on the next pitch. Shoemaker was visibly angry, and rightfully so).
Meanwhile the Angels were holding their own against Seattle pitching, finishing with ten total hits and six runs. They got two on the board in the opening frame, via Kyle Seager fielding error and an Andrelton Simmons RBI single.
In the fifth, Jett Bandy gave us all deja vu of his homer from two nights ago, as he hit yet another solo shot that stayed right on the left field foul line and nearly hit the pole. In the eighth, Yunel Escobar got himself another hit, and then Mike Trout was IBB’d, with Albert Pujols coming to the plate. Scott Servais gambled, and lost, as Pujols hit a two-run double, giving the Halos a 5-2 lead.
The good guys would get one more in the eighth, from a Jefry Marte RBI single, and they would ride into the ninth with a 6-2 lead and an easy path to victory. But as you probably know, nothing is an “easy path” for this Angels bullpen.
Fernando Salas was tabbed for the save, and proceeded to do a ton of C.J. Wilson-esque nibbling, despite his team’s four run advantage. This lead to an Adam Lind single and then a Mike Zunino homer, tacking on two for Seattle and all of a sudden we have a 6-4 game. Those eighth inning runs were now crucial.
Despite the dangerous nibbling, Salas managed to get some grounders going his way, thus getting those three huge outs and the Angels had officially staved off a series loss as well as fighting off another couple consecutive losses.
We got to see a really, really stellar Matt Shoemaker outing; we got to see yet another Jett Bandy homer (he now has eight homers, the most by an Angels rookie catcher since some guy named Mike Napoli); we got to see Albert Pujols hit the 95 RBI mark (him and Hank Aaron are the only two MLB players to ever have 15 seasons of 95+ RBIs).
Not a bad night of baseball. Now, bring on them Yankees!