Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Angels 3, Mariners 1: Three Up, Three Down
By Mark Saxon
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.
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.
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.