Justin Smoak ripped his 18th home run, a two-run shot in the sixth inning, and the Mariners held on to win their final road game of 2013, a 3-2 decision over the L.A. Angels in a contest twice delayed by a swarm of bees. The victory snapped Seattle’s three-game losing streak as the Mariners finished a 10-game road trip 3-7.
The bees invaded right field at Angel Stadium in the third inning when the Angels had two runners on and two outs. The bees clustered near the wall in right-center field, forcing Franklin Gutierrez and his teammates to retreat to the infield.
Umpires delayed the game, and the teams eventually went to their dugouts. Many fans left their seats for the stadium tunnels, but many more stayed. After the delay, the game resumed, only to be stopped briefly again an inning later.
By that time, Hernandez, who hadn’t pitched since Sept. 2 due to an oblique strain, already had 10 strikeouts. He didn’t factor in the decision due to the fact he was pulled after reaching a mandated pitch count.
Hernandez allowed one earned run on one hit. He fanned 10 and walked four in his first appearance since Sept. 2. Hernandez entered needing 5.2 innings to reach 200 for the sixth consecutive season. He didn’t get there, but still has a chance to make one more start.
Although Hernandez didn’t get the win, he became the first pitcher in major league history to throw just 4.0 innings and strike out 10, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Mike Zunino’s RBI double in the second scored Kendrys Morales and staked Hernandez to a 1-0 lead, but the Angels immediately loaded the sacks in the bottom of the inning with one out. Hernandez escaped the jam, allowing one run on a fielder’s choice by Efren Navarro that tied the score.
After the first bee swarm, Hernandez survived a bases-loaded jam in the third. The Mariners had a chance to take the lead in the fifth with runners at first and third, but Abraham Almonte fanned.
Smoak’s two-run homer in the sixth gave the Mariners a 3-1 lead. The Angels put a dent in that when Kole Calhoun homered on 1-1 count in the eighth.
ARMS: Mariners pitchers fanned 15 Angels Sunday.
BATS: The Mariners had eight hits, two by Morales . . . Smoak’s home run was his first of the season batting right handed.
NOTES: Shortstop Brad Miller didn’t start for the eighth consecutive game Sunday, but is expected back in the lineup Monday when the club begins a three-game series with Kansas City . . . The Mariners have set their pitching rotation for the final week of the season and have decided that Hisashi Iwakuma will take one more turn, on Wednesday. The club had debated shutting him down . . . Raul Ibanez, who hit his 300th career home run Saturday, has 1,992 hits and needs eight to reach 2,000.
NEXT: The Mariners final home stand starts Monday night — three against Kansas City Monday-Wednesday and three against the Oakland Athletics. RHP Brandon Maurer (4-8, 6.95) will work the Royals series opener opposite RHP Yordano Ventura (0-0, 1.59).
I laughed when at one point the Angles groundskeepers were using a broom to try and shoo the bees away!