3 up, 3 down: Angels 5, Mariners 4
September, 25, 2012
By Peter Yoon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Led by a dominant -- albeit brief -- start by Zack Greinke, the Los Angeles Angels tied a major league record with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game and kept alive their wild-card hopes with a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.
Greinke had 13 strikeouts in five innings as the Angels remained two games behind the Oakland Athletics for the final wild-card spot and pulled within 2 1/2 games of Baltimore with eight games to play.
The repertoire: Greinke was missing bats with all of his pitches as he set a season-high with 13 strikeouts in only five innings and became the first pitcher since 1900 to have 13 strikeouts in five innings or less. He had his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup fooling the Mariners throughout the first five innings and struck out the side twice, including when he had four strikeouts in the fourth to tie an Angels record. He got strikeouts to end four of his five innings, including on a 94-mph fastball on his final pitch of the game.
Big-game Hunter: Right fielder Torii Hunter had a two-run home run among his two hits and also scored twice. He was 2-for-3 for the game, raising his season average to .306 and keeping him on pace to bat over .300 for the first time in his career. Hunter, whose home run in the fifth inning gave the Angels a 4-1 lead, is now batting .429 against the Mariners this season and has 44 RBIs against the Mariners since 2009 -- more than any player in the majors. The home run was No. 297 of his career.
Leading man: Mike Trout continued to build his case for MVP with two hits, two runs and a stolen base. Trout, who reached base three times, has already been named the team MVP and is beginning to reach some team records. Trout has now tied Vladimir Guerrero’s team record for runs scored in a season (124) and tied Wally Joyner’s team record for multi-hit games by a rookie (52). He now has 47 stolen bases, one behind the team rookie record held by Gary Pettis.
The pitch count: Greinke needed 110 pitches to get through five innings and had to come out of the game. The first batter of the game, Dustin Ackley, provided a harbinger of things to come as he made Greinke throw 10 pitches before striking out. Greinke also had to face a few extra batters -- one after Trayvon Robinson reached on a passed ball after striking out and two more after Mark Trumbo dropped a fly ball that would have been the third out in the fourth. He also picked off Kyle Seager at first base for the third out on a 2-2 count to John Jaso and then had to face Jaso again to lead off the next inning.
Designated strander: Kendrys Morales, batting cleanup as the Angels' designated hitter, had some unproductive at-bats in key situations. In the first inning with runners at first and third with no outs, he popped out to shortstop. In the third inning with runners at first and third with one out, he struck out. In those prime run-producing situation, Morales pretty much did the only things you could to leave the runner stranded at third. He finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
Downs and out: The Angels handed relief pitcher Scott Downs a 5-1 lead in the seventh and he nearly let it slip away. He gave up consecutive doubles to Ackley and Franklin Gutierrez to lead off the inning that cut the Angels' lead to 5-2 then, after getting the next two batters, gave up a two-run home run to Justin Smoak that made it 5-4. Downs hadn't given up a homer since July 25, hadn't allowed a run since Aug. 25 and hadn't allowed a hit since Sept. 12.