Mariners 8, Angels 1
Leave it to a most unlikely pair to finally awaken Seattle’s
offense from the offensive doldrums.
And for young Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders, his first
major league homer came with some extra special meaning.
Josh Wilson and Saunders hit back-to-back home runs in Seattle’s
four-run fourth inning, and the bottom of the Mariners lineup
helped break out of their offensive doldrums with a 8-1 win over
the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Seattle’s lackluster offense cost hitting coach Alan Cockrell
his job Sunday morning. Hours later the bats came alive in time to
avoid the first winless homestand of more than four games in team
history. Seattle had been swept by Texas and Tampa Bay, and dropped
the first two games to the Angels before finally snapping an
eight-game losing streak.
Music and a little bit of laughter was finally back in the
Seattle clubhouse after its first win since April 28.
“For us to come in joking and not worry about the next day …
I think every one is just going to back off a little bit and just
play baseball,” Seattle starter Jason Vargas said.
Saunders thought his drive was headed for a double, and instead
became a special Mother’s Day moment.
His mother, Jane, is undergoing treatment for cancer that has
come and gone for more than a decade. It contributed to some of
Saunders’ struggles early in the season at Triple-A Tacoma. He was
called up earlier this week when Milton Bradley was placed on the
restricted list while dealing with personal issues.
With his mom wearing one of his old jerseys and keep score in
her scorebook, Saunders followed up Wilson’s three-run home with a
solo drive off Angels starter Ervin Santana that barely cleared the
wall in right-center field. While Saunders raced around the bases,
his mom was getting a round of high fives from others sitting
“It wasn’t the biggest thing for me to get my first home run,
but to have her in the stands when I did it was the biggest thing
for me,” Saunders said.
Saunders later added an RBI single in the eighth, and the bottom
three in Seattle’s lineup combined to go 6-for-11 with six
Vargas (3-2) continued with his strong performances of late,
pitching 7 1-3 innings, scattering four hits and one unearned run
and getting backed by an offense that scored just 12 runs in its
previous eight games.
Wilson’s homer was the crucial blow for a team desperately
seeking a big hit.
With two outs, Santana (1-3) walked Ken Griffey Jr., then walked
Ryan Langerhans on a 3-2 pitch. Wilson jumped on a slider over the
middle of the plate for his first homer since Aug. 27, 2009 and the
sixth of his career. It was the first multihomer game for Seattle
this season and the first Seattle homers by someone other than
Franklin Gutierrez since April 23 at Chicago.
“Those two walks, that was the game right there,” Santana
said. “After that I just kept battling, trying to make my
Gutierrez added an RBI double and Seattle scored more than four
runs for the first time since April 28 at Kansas City.
The offensive “eruption” was plenty for Vargas. Since his
first start of the season at Texas, Vargas has allowed three earned
runs or less in his last five starts.
Working quickly and in rhythm, Vargas scattered just singles and
let his defense do the work. Vargas struck out four, and got 15 fly
ball outs. The Angels threatened in the seventh with runners on
first and third and no outs, but Vargas got Howie Kendrick on a pop
out, struck out Mike Napoli and saw Brandon Wood fly out to end the
Los Angeles got an unearned run in the eighth on an error and
NOTES: Seattle 1B Casey Kotchman sat Sunday with a sore right
ankle after getting hit by a pitch late in Saturday’s loss. … May
continues to be Santana’s worst month of his career. He fell to
7-12 all-time and hasn’t won in May since 2008. … Seattle SS Jack
Wilson will participate in a simulated game before Tuesday’s series
opener in Baltimore and if all goes well will start that night
against the Orioles.