Cross posted at SoCal Sports Hub
Ervin Santana tossed a gem and picked up his sixteenth win of the season as the Angels beat the Mariners 2-1. Not a lot of action in this one, as both pitchers really threw the ball well. Ryan Rowland-Smith continued his solid work of late, earning his seventh straight quality start. His ERA, 4.11 just over a month ago, has fallen to 3.39 over that span. He allowed only one earned run last night, but some shoddy defense and a lights out performance from Santana was enough to keep him from getting the win. Frankie Rodriguez dominated the M's hitters in the ninth to extend his record saves total to 61.
The Mariners struck first with three straight singles to open the third inning. But they were only able to plate one run on an RBI ground out by Raul Ibanez, sandwiched around strikeouts by Yunieski Betancourt and Jose Lopez. After escaping that jam, Santana settled into a groove and faced the minimum from the fourth inning on, allowing only a single to Marques Tuiasosopo in the fourth inning before picking him off first base. Santana worked eight innings, allowed five hits, and struck out nine against no walks. He's now 16-6, with a 3.25 ERA, and he's second in the AL in strikeouts. A year ago today he was 7-13 with a 5.62 ERA, and he had Angels fans wondering if he'd ever put it together. Six months after refusing to give in to calls to trade him, Tony Reagins has himself a second ace.
The Angels tied the game in the fourth inning on a monster shot to center field off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero, his 25th of the season. Vlad's now poised to hit over .300 with 25 homers for the 11th consecutive season. The only other player in MLB history with a similar streak is Lou Gehrig. Pretty good company. In the seventh inning, Jeff Mathis reached on a one out single. Reggie Willits singled him to third, and a misplay in the outfield allowed Mathis to score the final run of the game. Francisco Rodriguez worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, making Jose Lopez look stupid on a three pitch strikeout for the last out. The Angels reduced their magic number for home field advantage to four.
Top Three Angels Performers:
1. Ervin Santana was as dominant as he could be. You have to remind yourself it was against the Mariners, but the 9 strikeouts and no walks is a very nice sign heading into the playoffs. And with John Lackey's recent struggles, it's that much more important to have one of them charging into the post-season.
2. Vladimir Guerrero delivered three hits, but the home run he hit in the fourth came right on top of Santana's Houdini act in the bottom of the third, and snuffed out any Mariners momentum.
3. Reggie Willits didn't get an RBI for the single that helped push Jeff Mathis across, but he did go three for four.
Jeff Weaver of the Game
It's hard to single anyone out in a win, but take your pick between Juan Rivera (0-3, 4 LOB) or Sean Rodriguez (0-3, 3 Ks). The good news about Rodriguez is that those three strikeouts came in relief of Howie Kendrick, who returned to the lineup and was hitless in two at bats.
Play of the Game
Vlad's home run was crushed. Beautiful to watch, and it tied the game at a fairly crucial point.
What to look for tonight:
Jered Weaver, who has allowed one run in his last 12 innings spanning two starts, looks to stay hot. He probably won't start in the first round. The Angels can choose their schedule, and will likely take the five games in eight days schedule, allowing them to use a three man rotation in the ALDS. The Mariners counter with Ryan Feierabend, who has been knocked around a bit this season, including a five inning, four run performance in a losing effort against the Angels two weeks ago.
Game Time is 7:10 PDT on FSN.