SEATTLE – One day after his team played one of its worst games of the season, Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge closed the clubhouse doors Monday afternoon and drilled home a critical message.
Even though the Mariners are far from contenders, they’re playing teams that are in the final 30 games. “Every game means something,” Wedge reminded the Mariners.
Then they played one of their best games of the year, one that had a true meaning in the American League West. Playing not only flawless but spectacular baseball in the field and backing it up with clutch hitting, the Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 at Safeco Field.
Mike Carp hit a towering two-run home run to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning, Dustin Ackley went 3 for 3 with a single, double, triple and sacrifice fly, and left fielder Casper Wells threw out two Angels runners.
The loss send the Angels 31/2 games behind Texas in the West.
The pregame meeting, when Wedge did most of the talking, was especially inspiring to Wells.
“That was a pretty emotional meeting. I was waiting at the end for the applause,” he said.
And of the performance on the field?
“I enjoyed watching it, too,” Wells said.
Watching it? He was a big part of the drama.
In the third inning, Wells threw out speedy Peter Bourjos trying to stretch a single into a double. In the seventh, Wells caught Bourjos’ sinking liner before throwing a missile to Mike Carp at first base, doubling off Erick Aybar to end that threat.
Wells became the first Mariners outfielder with at least two assists in a game since Mike Morse did it on April 5, 2008.
“And if Torii Hunter had run (to second after his fourth-inning single to left), he’d have thrown out three guys tonight,” Carp said.
Carp felt badly that he took some of the pizzaz out of Wells’ throw to first that doubled off Aybar in the seventh inning.
“I came off the bag, but I could have stood there and it would have hit me in the chest,” Carp said. “It was a perfect throw.”
With the score tied 3-3 and Ackley on second base after his leadoff double in the eighth, he unloaded on a first-pitch slider from Angels right-hander Rich Thompson. The ball landed in the second deck beyond the right field fence, estimated at 432 feet.
“After he hit it, I just stopped,” Ackley said. “I was just going to watch that ball. Even in BP you don’t see many balls land that high.”
Rookie starting pitcher Blake Beavan overcame a three-run hiccup in the fourth inning, the big hit Mark Trumbo’s long two-run homer, and gave the Mariners seven innings.
Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the eighth and, after Carp homered, recorded his second major league victory. Closer Brandon League pitched around Trumbo’s two-out double in the ninth to record his 32nd save.
And Ichiro Suzuki, heating up in what will need to be a hot finish to the season if he’s to finish with 200 hits, doubled twice. He has 153 hits with 29 games left.
“They should feel real good about this,” Wedge said of his young Mariners – 12 of the 25 players are rookies. “They’re playing a good ballclub that’s right in the thick of things.”
That was the gist of his message Monday, which followed a poor effort Sunday when the M’s finished an 0-3 weekend against the White Sox.
“You recognize some of the downfalls from time to time, but you can’t dwell on that,” Wedge said.