If the Angels are undecided on which of their big pending free agents to pursue after the season, last night's game made the decision a little easier. Mark Teixeira struck twice for home runs, the first of which, a two run shot, gave the Angels a 3-1 lead in the third inning. The Mariners climbed back to tie the game at 3-3, in the 7th, then 4-4 in the 8th.
Following a Garret Anderson walk and Howie Kendrick double, the Angels pushed across two runs in bottom of the eighth with back to back sac flies from Juan Rivera and Jeff Mathis for a 6-4 lead. But the Mariners stormed back, getting three in the top of the ninth against Frankie Rodriguez. The Mariners got the benefit of two close calls in the inning, the first when Miguel Cairo walked on what looked like a very borderline pitch, and the second when Cairo appeared to be double off second following a line drive to Vladimir Guerrero in right field. A Jeremy Reed double and Raul Ibanez single drove three runs across to give the Mariners a 7-6 lead. Rodriguez left the game following Ibanez's single, and gave home plate umpire Gerry Davis an earful that would lead to his ejection, though it was essentially meaningless at that point.
But Rodriguez wasn't the only closer to fail last night. J.J. Putz surrendered a lead off home run to Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings. The scored held at 7-7 until the top of the 12th, when the Angels, having burned through Jose Arredondo, Scot Shields, Rodriguez, and Darren Oliver (who threw 2.2 perfect innings), were forced to call on Justin Speier. With two on and two out, Wladimir Balantien hit his sixth home run of the season, the 11th allowed by Speier in just 49 innings, a three run shot that all but put the game out of reach.
Top performing Angels:
1) Mark Teixeira went three for six, with two homers and three RBIs. He's now hit four homers with the Angels, and is hitting a robust .340 since the trade.
2) Maicer Izturis, hitting in front of Teixeria, added three hits, two of them doubles, in his five at bats before leaving the game with a sprained thumb, an injury he aggravated diving for a ground ball in the ninth inning.
3) Darren Oliver kept the Angels hope's alive, getting them out of the tumultuous ninth inning, and tossing perfect frames in the 10th and 11th innings.
4) Ervin Santana rates a mention for his 6.1 innings and seven strikeouts. He left the game with a lead that the bullpen was unable to maintain.
Jeff Weaver of the game: Pick just about anyone from the Angels bullpen except Oliver. Jose Arredondo inherited a difficult situation, with runners on second and third with only one out in the seventh. He allowed the tying run to score on an RBI ground out. Scot Shields allowed a double and two out RBI single in the eighth. Rodriguez and Speier melted down as described above.
Play of the game: Mark Teixeira's lead off game tying blast in the bottom of the ninth gave the Angels hope, for a few innings.
What to look for on Friday: Jered Weaver brings his roller coaster act to Cleveland against the Indians and Cy Young candidate Cliff Lee. Lee faces the American League's best offense since the the All Star break.
Game is @ 4:05 PDT on Fox Sports Net.