Cross Posted at SoCal Sports Hub
It's been a tight race for most of the season, but last night, the Angels clinched at least a tie. Last night's 6-5 victory in Seattle means Francisco Rodriguez will finish the season with at least as many saves as the Mariners have wins. It was just six months ago when people were seriously including the Mariners in discussions of possible winners of the A.L. West.
Jon Garland didn't exactly grab the reins last night, as he battles Jered Weaver for the fourth starter role in the playoffs, which the Angels won't likely need until the ALCS should they advance past the first round. He allowed five runs on 11 hits over five innings, and was not around long enough to pick up the win. That went to Darren Oliver, who pitched two perfect innings in relief, solidifying his bullpen role in the playoffs, as the Angels don't figure to actually use more than four relievers. Scot Shields loaded the bases with one out in the eighth on two walks and a hit batter, but he struck out Ichiro and got Yunieski Betancourt to ground out to end the inning with no damage. Rodriguez allowed a two out single in the ninth, but otherwise coasted to his 62nd save of the season.
The Angels grabbed an early lead in the second inning on Erick Aybar's RBI single, scoring Torii Hunter who had previously doubled. Aybar, having made his way to third on a Mike Napoli single, later scored on a passed ball. The Mariners tied the game in the second, and took a three run lead in the fifth. But the Angels responded in the top of the sixth with three runs of their own. The first four batters of the inning reached base. Erick Aybar led off with a double and Mike Napoli walked before Sean Rodriguez doubled them both home. Chone Figgins' single move Rodriguez to third, and he brought home the tying run on Garret Anderson's double play. The game remained tied at five until the top of the eighth, when Mark Teixeira untied it with a two out solo home run, his 13th as Angel (he also picked up his 42nd Angel RBI).
Top three Angels performers:
Mark Teixeira went four for five with a double and homer. He's hitting .361 since the trade.
Mike Napoli is swinging the bat well, and he reached base for times last night in five appearances. He delivered a double, two singles, and a walk.
Darren Oliver's two perfect innings came on the heels of the Angels big sixth inning, and gave the offense time to add the extra run it needed.
Jeff Weaver of the game:
Jon Garland didn't exactly make a case for being the fourth starter come playoff time. He allowed five runs in five innings, and a lot of baserunners.
Play of the game:
Mark Teixeira's two out eighth inning homer was the difference in the game.
What to expect tonight
Dustin Moseley takes Joe Saunders' turn in the rotation as Saunders recovers from kidney stones. The Mariners counter with Cesar Jiminez, who has been solid in 30 innings this season, mostly in relief. The Angels are one win away from tying their franchise record 99 wins. Their magic number for home field advantage is three.