Mariners finish trip with flourish in 8-6 victory over Los Angeles Angels
Ichiro homers and has an RBI single to end 0-for-20 slump as Mariners score all eight of their runs with two outs to go 5-4 on trip.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Dodgers @ M's, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
ANAHEIM, Calif. — They packed up for home with confidence and smiles, knowing they can beat some tough opponents in hostile ballparks.
The question for the Mariners now is whether they can keep on scoring like this in the not-so-comfy environment of Safeco Field. Another offensive blitz by the Mariners on Wednesday night overcame more so-so starting pitching in an 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Seattle scored 64 runs in the nine games on this trip, winning five of them including two here. This was the fifth time on the trip the Mariners scored at least eight runs, and that was enough for their first series victory at Angel Stadium since 2009.
"I think in spring training, we had a feeling that we were going to be better offensively this year," said Kyle Seager, who drove in four runs with a double and a single. "We had a lot of younger guys who got a lot of experience last year, and we've got some veteran guys who can hit. So, I mean, we have a lot of confidence in each other, and I think that's been a big part for us so far."
All eight of the runs scored by Seattle came with two out. A crowd of 37,342 saw the Mariners score a pair of runs in the fifth to tie the score at 4 on Seager's double.
Then, after the Angels retook a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the inning, the Mariners scored three in the sixth to take the lead for good. Ichiro got that rally going with a run-scoring single to snap an 0-for-20 slump, the second-longest of his career after an 0-for-22 stretch in 2005.
Seager later delivered a two-run single up the middle to put the Mariners ahead for good and get starter Hector Noesi off the hook for a loss. Ichiro then stepped up in the eighth and drilled a ball over the right-field wall for a key insurance run.
Noesi lasted just four-plus innings in working on short rest and gave up another home run on an 0-2 count, this one to Kendrys Morales in the third inning to fall behind 4-2.
At that point, opposing hitters were 9 for 29 this season with four homers and three doubles off Noesi with the count 0-2.
But the Mariners hitters came surging back, as they have throughout this trip when starters get in trouble. And the bullpen delivered as well, with newcomer Stephen Pryor inducing a pair of double plays with two men on to end the sixth and seventh innings.
The best was a 3-6-1 double play in the sixth that saw shortstop Brendan Ryan use brilliant footwork and a strong throw to first to a stretching Pryor to nab the speedy Maicer Izturis by a half step.
"I was just kind of busting my butt to get over there," Pryor said. "That was a sticky situation there, and I was glad to get a ground ball and get out of it."
It was just as sticky in a 7-6 game in the seventh when the Mariners opted to walk Mark Trumbo intentionally with Albert Pujols at third base. Trumbo has been destroying fastballs of late, and despite Pryor's high-90s heat, the Mariners weren't about to give the Angels slugger a shot at his 13th homer of the season.
But Pryor got the ensuing grounder he needed from Howie Kendrick for a rather routine-looking 6-4-3 double play.
"In that case we were trying to jam him and get a ground ball," Pryor said. "It happened and everything fell into place."
Things seemed to be falling into place for manager Eric Wedge when it came to his long-preached strategy of getting hitters to swing at hittable pitches and leaving unhittable stuff alone.
The Mariners got rare top-of-the-order production in this game, with the first four batters going a combined 8 for 18 with six runs batted in and five runs scored.
Aside from that, Michael Saunders, moved up from No. 8 to No. 6 in the order, hit three more singles to finish 7 for 11 in the series.
Now, Wedge and company have to hope they can keep some of this up at their home ballpark. Safeco Field has not been kind to the Mariners offensively the past several seasons, though Wedge said his players are coming home a changed bunch.
"It was a big win and it was a good road trip," Wedge said. "We played a lot of hard-fought games on this road trip, and the guys stepped up time and time again. Different types of wins, different types of ballgames. But when you look at what this club did here on this particular road trip, it's a big step for us.
"A big step for us as a ballclub. A lot of different individuals continuing to get better and finding ways to win ballgames."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners