The Angels kept their slim playoff hopes alive Tuesday with a 4-3 win (box score) over the Mariners, whose flicker of postseason hope was all but extinguished on a night when ace Felix Hernandez gave up two home runs. Seattle lost for just 12th time in the last 30 games vs. Angels at Safeco Field, including a 4-5 mark this season.
New Angels leadoff man David Murphy, thrust into that role because of his .296 career batting average against Hernandez, took King Felix deep for a three-run homer in the third inning. That shot, which barely cleared the fence in right, gave Los Angeles a 3-1 lead.
The long ball provided more runs in one at-bat than Hernandez gave up over his first 29 innings against Los Angeles this season (two). He made it through seven innings, allowing five hits and four runs, including the game-winner to Mike Trout in the sixth, his 36th, tying his career high. It was his sixth against Seattle, most off any opponent.
Rookie Tony Zych had to come on in a one-run game and face Trout and Albert Pujols, and got both.
DH Nelson Cruz did his thing in the first inning, hitting home run No. 42. That’s the most by a Mariner in a season since Ken Griffey Jr. hit an American League-high 48 in 1999. OF Franklin Gutierrez has been almost as potent in recent weeks, hitting his 10th home run since Aug. 5, a solo shot in the seventh. Cruz has only one more homer in that span, despite 43 more at-bats than Gutierrez.
Gutierrez drove in the other run, a fourth-inning single that somehow scored Seth Smith from first base. The Mariners didn’t have a single at-bat with a runner in scoring position.
“Felix is one of the top pitchers of his generation. Mike, he definitely has some numbers
against him that jump out. But Mike’s pretty good, too.” – Angels manager Mike Scioscia,
on Trout having a .349 career batting average and four home runs off Hernandez
Manager Lloyd McClendon said RHP Taijuan Walker will skip his next start, adding that there is no guarantee Walker will pitch again this season. Walker is healthy but has already thrown 169.2 innings, most he’s thrown at any level. McClendon said LHP James Paxton will start Friday after a Thursday off day, while LHP Vidal Nuno will return to the rotation after one relief appearance to pitch Saturday in Texas . . . OF Shawn O’Malley was not in the lineup Tuesday, one day after taking a thrown ball off the side of his head . . . Los Angeles starter Nick Tropeano pitched twice at Safeco Field: During his major league debut with the Astros last September and again Tuesday. He won both starts; in between, Tropeano is 1-5 with a 5.30 ERA.
RHP Jered Weaver (7-10, 4.71 ERA) faces the Mariners for the first time since Opening Da in Wednesday’s series finale. Weaver is 14-11 with a 3.45 ERA in 32 career starts against the Mariners. Seattle RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4, 4.05 ERA) will continue his free-agent audition as the 34-year-old starter. He has three or four more starts before he hits the market.