Angels 3, Mariners 1: Three Up, Three Down

September, 7, 2011
9/07/11
9:21
PM PT
ANAHEIM -- The Angels rallied for three eighth-inning runs and got a brilliant outing from Jerome Williams on Wednesday to beat the Seattle Mariners, 3-1, and rev up this AL West pennant race.

The Angels trail the first-place Texas Rangers by just 2 1/2 games with 19 left to play.

The Good:

Stopping power. Wiliams didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning, Trayvon Robinson's solo home run, and that was all he gave up. He needed just 84 pitches to get through his eight innings. Williams -- who went nearly six years between major league wins earlier this year -- had been good previously, but this was dominance. He was throwing in the low 90s and had movement on everything. He now has to be considered a factor for the rest of this month, maybe for the month after that and for 2012.

Feverish focus. I happened to walk alongside Maicer Izturis from the Angels clubhouse to the bench before batting practice and he mentioned that he had a terrible flu that included a fever. He may not have felt great, but he played well. Izturis had the Angels' only extra-base hits, a pair of doubles, including the two-run shot into the alley in left-center that won them the game.

Blanket defense. The left side of the Mariners' infield nearly shut the Angels down. That's how brilliantly it played. Shortstop Brendan Ryan kept gobbling up balls deep in the hole and making jump throws to somehow get Angels hitters. Finally, Erick Aybar beat one of those out and it led to the tying run.

The Bad:

Sputtering offense. Charlie Furbush was 2-3 with a 6.38 ERA in August. Against the Angels on Wednesday, he looked like Steve Carlton. The Angels wasted a couple of early opportunities, then Furbush just mowed them down inning after inning until that eighth.

Dead spot. Angels catchers have scored 30 runs this season. That's last in the majors. Angels catchers have batted .196. That's 28th. Their slugging percentage is .258. That's 28th. Imagine where they'd be right now if they'd gotten slightly-worse-than-mediocre offensive production from catchers instead of almost none. Mike Scioscia normally has to manage that part of the lineup as if he had a pitcher hitting.

Let him finish? Scioscia might take some heat for not letting Williams go back out for the ninth given his stuff and low pitch count, but realize that closer Jordan Walden had only appeared in two of the Angels' last 13 games and badly needed work.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Howie Kendrick
BA HR RBI R
.293 7 75 85
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 36
RBIM. Trout 111
RM. Trout 115
OPSM. Trout .939
WJ. Weaver 18
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOJ. Weaver 169