Hideki Matsui’s homer key in Angels 4-2 win


By Mike DiGiovanna
Los Angeles Times

September 2, 2010

Reporting from Seattle

Ichiro Suzuki came within inches of robbing Hideki Matsui of a home run Wednesday night, leaving the large Japanese media contingent in Safeco Field feeling somewhat robbed.

Matsui’s two-run shot over the outstretched glove of Suzuki in the seventh inning turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead and pushed the Angels toward a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Had the acrobatic right fielder come up with the catch to deny the Angels’ designated hitter, it would have been one of the biggest stories of the season in Japan.

“Probably, a few companies would have put it on the front page,” Matsui said through a translator. “Baseball is very popular in Japan too.”

Jordan Walden struck out two in a scoreless seventh, Kevin Jepsen, who was tagged for three eighth-inning runs and the loss Tuesday night, struck out two in a scoreless eighth, and Fernando Rodney struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his eighth save.

Trevor Bell gave up two runs and nine hits in six innings, striking out six and walking none, to earn the win, and Alberto Callaspo hit a solo homer in the eighth for an insurance run.

“I was impressed with how Jordan went after guys, and it was a great bounce-back game from Jepsen,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “And Fernando has been pitching well in the closer role.”

The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the first when Reggie Willits doubled to left, took third on Callaspo’s grounder to shortstop and scored on Howie Kendrick’s grounder to second.

The Mariners tied it in the third on Franklin Gutierrez’s RBI single and went ahead in the fifth.

But Mike Napoli doubled off the center-field wall in the seventh, and with two out