SEATTLE – A crisp, clean game was something the Mariners had longed for since their glory days of being a first-place club.
It seems like ages ago, though it’s only been about 2 1/2 weeks since the M’s sat atop the division after employing a pitching-and-defense combination to offset an offense gone missing. That same formula was in evidence Wednesday night at Safeco Field in a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, a game that saw the Mariners minimize mistakes in the field and make the pitches they had to when it mattered.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu had benched Yuniesky Betancourt and Adrian Beltre in recent days for a lack of performance and had an opportunity to send a similar message to second baseman Jose Lopez given his costly error the previous night. But despite numerous changes to the batting order, Wakamatsu ran his full lineup of regulars out and they did not let him down.
A crowd of 18,580 saw Mariners starter Chris Jakubauskas let the Angels put the ball in play for the most part, allowing just four base runners over six innings despite striking out just one batter. In other words, M’s infielders and outfielders were kept busy making plays behind him and make them they did.
In the end, a leadoff double by Ichiro Suzuki in the first inning and an ensuing, run-scoring single by Ken Griffey Jr. was all the Mariners needed against Angels starter Ervin Santana. In only his second start of the season since coming off the disabled list, the 16-game-winner from 2008 was his usual strike-throwing self and breezed through the first three innings on 27 pitches despite the one run allowed.
Santana retired 10 in a row after Griffey’s single and kept the Angels in a 1-0 game until leaving with two out in the seventh inning. The Mariners were just as confounded on offense as they have been through most of the past month and failed to add to their lead in the seventh as reliever Jose Arrendondo came on and retired Ichiro on a groundout with runners at the corners.
But the pitching and defense would prove to be enough.
Jakubauskas threw 80 pitches over the first four innings, but then needed just 20 more to get through his final two frames. A red-hot Miguel Batista enjoyed his sixth scoreless outing in a row, retiring the side in order in the seventh, Mark Lowe nailed down the eighth and David Aardsma closed out the ninth.
Ichiro provided the defensive highlight of the night, running down a Maicer Izturis drive to the right-field wall in the sixth inning. Betancourt looked sharp in handling a number of grounders at shortstop and Beltre made one of his usual fine plays look easy in throwing out Chone Figgins on a scorching ground ball to end the fifth.
About the only play the Mariners didn’t make in the field came when Lowe couldn’t squeeze a comebacker by Figgins with two out in the eighth inning that the speedy leadoff man beat out for an infield single. It was the first hit for the Angels since the fourth inning and ended a streak of 12 in a row retired by Seattle pitching.
But Lowe rallied to strike Izturis out on a 99 mph fastball to end that threat.
Mariners 1, Angels 0
|Matthews Jr. lf-rf||3||0||1||0||1||0||.276|
|Griffey Jr. dh||3||0||2||1||1||0||.238|
E—Mathis (2). LOB—Los Angeles 6, Seattle 8. 2B—Hunter (10), I.Suzuki (4). RBIs—Griffey Jr. (10). SB—Y.Betancourt (3). RLISP—Los Angeles 2 (Kendrick 2); Seattle 3 (I.Suzuki 2, Johjima).
|E.Santana L, 0-1||6 2/3||5||1||1||2||3||3.09|
|Jakubauskas W, 3-4||6||2||0||0||2||1||6.10|
|Batista H, 2||1||0||0||0||0||0||2.38|
|M.Lowe H, 3||1||1||0||0||0||1||3.72|
|Aardsma S, 5-5||1||0||0||0||1||1||1.37|
IR-S—Arredondo 2-0. IBB—off Arredondo (Branyan). WP—Arredondo. Balk—Arredondo. T—2:25. A—18,580 (47,878).
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