If the Mariners still harbored secret hopes of re-emerging as a factor in the A.L. West race, they were rudely rebuffed Monday.
The Los Angeles Angels, unleashing a savage offense against Mariners rookie Luke French and reliever Chris Jakubauskas, crushed Seattle 10-0 at Safeco Field.
With a smallish crowd of 18,959 in attendance, Seattle fans apparently aren’t being overcome with pennant fever. The Mariners were shut out for the eighth time this year, and in back-to-back games for the first time.
Vladimir Guerrero led the Angels’ 13-hit attack with a pair of home runs, the second one on a pitch at his ankles from Jakubauskas that he deposited in the upper deck in left.
The Angels opened their division lead to 11 games on Seattle, which couldn’t wage a fair fight with Ichiro Suzuki (calf), Adrian Beltre (contused testicle) and Ken Griffey Jr. (knee) all on the bench.
Ichiro and Beltre are expected back in the lineup tonight, while Griffey is still questionable. Dustin Ackley, the Mariners’ No. 1 draft pick, was in attendance Monday, but unfortunately for them wasn’t available to grab a bat.
The night after Kansas City’s Zack Greinke stuffed the Mariners on one hit, they managed three. It was Joe Saunders who stymied the Mariners this time, blanking them on three hits over seven innings to raise his record to 11-7.
French, meanwhile, had his worst outing of the six starts since joining the Mariners’ rotation from Detroit in the July 31 trade for Jarrod Washburn. On the same night Washburn was touched for eight runs in 52/3 innings against Tampa Bay, French gave up seven in five innings to the Angels.
The long ball did in French, who yielded a two-run homer to Guerrero in the third inning, and a three-run shot to Juan Rivera in the fifth. Guerrero’s second homer came in the seventh inning with a man aboard as he golfed a curveball into the upper deck. It was his third two-homer game this season, his 20th with the Angels, and the 39th of his career.
At the same time, Saunders was mowing down the Mariners. The M’s biggest threat came in the first, when they loaded the bases with two outs on a walk to Jose Lopez, a single by Mike Sweeney, and another walk to Bill Hall. But Jack Hannahan grounded out to second to end the inning.
That started a string of 10 straight batters retired by Saunders, who brought a 5.27 earned-run average into the game. Jack Wilson finally got on base with a leadoff single in the fifth, but was promptly erased on a double play. Josh Wilson had a one-out double in the sixth but was stranded on second.
The Angels started a lineup with six of the nine players hitting over .300, plus Bobby Abreu at .299. The Mariners’ leading hitter was Josh Wilson at .288 in just 52 at-bats.
Their lone .300 hitter is Ichiro (.359), who has now missed all eight games on this homestand.
Ichiro ran before the game and said his calf felt fine, but Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to give him one more day’s rest.