ANAHEIM, Calif. – A rejuvenated Mike Sweeney had said right before game time that he isn’t ready to call it a career just yet.
Nor was he calling it quits on Tuesday night’s game with Cy Young Award hopeful Felix Hernandez headed for a loss and the home crowd preparing to hit the exits. Sweeney’s solo home run in the ninth tied the game and got Hernandez off-the-hook decision-wise in a contest the Mariners went on to lose, 3-2, in 10 innings to the Los Angeles Angels.
Sweeney’s leadoff blast to left, off Angels closer Brian Fuentes, helped Hernandez avoid a defeat that seemed certain and might have slightly hurt his Cy Young chances. Any chance Hernandez had at a victory in this one disappeared when the Mariners managed only two singles off Angels starter Scott Kazmir after a solo homer in the first by Franklin Gutierrez.
And then, it seemed Hernandez would get saddled with a loss once shortstop Jack Wilson booted a double-play grounder in the fifth inning and allowed the go-ahead run to score. But Sweeney, who said in an interview pregame that a chat with his wife one week ago was instrumental in his wanting to play for one of these two teams next season, ripped a Fuentes pitch well beyond the outfield wall and kept Hernandez’s 14-5 record intact.
The crowd of 37,725 at Angel Stadium gasped in dismay at the turn of events and then booed Fuentes when he walked two batters. But then, with runners at second and third and one out, reliever Jason Bulger came on and fanned pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr.
Bulger then got pinch-hitter Mike Carp to bounce out and keep the game tied.
Erick Aybar then won it for the Angels with a single up the middle off Miguel Batista in the 10th.
Hernandez is still two wins behind Cy Young contender Justin Verlander, but the Sweeney homer at least managed to keep his .737 winning percentage intact.
Kazmir dominated this game for the Angels throughout his seven innings of work, escaping his only serious trouble with two on and two out in the sixth inning when Adrian Beltre flied out harmlessly to left field.
Hernandez had run into a bout of wildness in the third inning after Gutierrez’s homer had given him a 1-0 lead. He walked the first two batters in the third, then saw them bunted ahead one base.
He promptly walked Maicer Izturis to load the bases, then fell behind 3-1 in the count to Bobby Abreu. But Abreu did Hernandez a favor by swinging at the next pitch and getting under it for a flyout to left.
The ball was deep enough to score the runner from third, but Hernandez escaped what could have been much heavier damage from there.
And that was it as far as any more earned runs.
Hernandez gave up a one-out walk to Chone Figgins in the fifth, then a single to right by Izturis that put two on. Abreu then hit a hard grounder to Wilson’s left that seemed poised to become an inning-ending double play.
But Wilson uncharacteristically booted it, allowing the ball to deflect off his glove and through his legs to the outfield. The Angels scored an unearned run on the play and that was it for both teams until Sweeney’s home run tied it in the ninth.
Angels 3, Mariners 2 (10)
|Griffey Jr. ph||1||0||0||0||0||1||.217|
|Matthews Jr. lf||2||0||0||0||2||0||.242|
E—Ja.Wilson 2 (4), Figgins 2 (14). LOB—Seattle 9, Los Angeles 11. 2B—B.Abreu (24). HR—F.Gutierrez (16), off Kazmir; M.Sweeney (7), off Fuentes. RBIs—F.Gutierrez (58), M.Sweeney (29), B.Abreu (91), E.Aybar (52). SB—Tor.Hunter (16). S—Figgins, Willits. SF—B.Abreu. RLISP—Seattle 6 (Ro.Johnson 2, Beltre 2, Carp 2); Los Angeles 6 (Guerrero 2, Napoli, Tor.Hunter, M.Izturis 2). RMU—Tor.Hunter, E.Aybar. GIDP—F.Gutierrez, Tor.Hunter. DP—Seattle 1 (Ja.Wilson, Jo.Wilson, Jo.Lopez); Los Angeles 1 (Figgins, M.Izturis, K.Morales).
|Batista L, 6-4||2/3||2||1||1||1||0||4.55|
|Jepsen H, 12||1||0||0||0||0||0||4.60|
|Fuentes BS, 6-45||1/3||1||1||1||2||1||4.08|
|Palmer W, 10-1||1||2||0||0||0||0||4.13|
IR-S—Bulger 2-0. IBB—off Batista (K.Morales). WP—M.Lowe, Kazmir, Bulger. PB—Napoli. T—3:14. A—37,725 (45,257).