Two solo homers and a good outing from starter Hisashi Iwakuma kept the Mariners in full chug with a 2-1 win Wednesday night in Anaheim (box). The eighth triumph in a row, and 10th in the past 13, included three-game sweeps of the Angels and A’s, for the third perfect road trip in club history (minimum six games). Seattle went 10-0 from April 8-17, 2002 and 6-0 from Sept. 15-20, 2000.
On the second pitch of the seventh inning in a 1-1 game, DH Nelson Cruz hit his 37th home run for his 92nd RBI. The solo shot came off reliever Jose Valdez, who had just entered the game and was pulled after the homer.
The Angels scored two runs in the three-game series.
Iwakuma went for 6.1 innings and 92 pitches, giving up five hits and three walks, to win his 16th game, a career high. The only run he gave up was on a wild pitch in third inning.
Tom Wilhelmsen got the final two outs in the seventh. Steve Cishek worked a perfect eighth, as did closer Edwin Diaz in the ninth. Entering the game, Diaz led MLB in saves since Aug. 1 with 15. During that span, he has converted 15 of 16 save opportunities while posting a 13.5 strikeout/9 innings ratio.
The Mariners managed only five hits, but one in the fifth inning off spot starter Jhoulys Chacin tied the game when 3B Kyle Seager hit a ball 419 feet for a solo homer, his 29th. He had been 3-for-23 entering the at-bat.
The eight-game winning streak has helped the Mariners this week climb over Kansas City, Houston and, Wednesday night, New York. The Mariners trail the second wild card spot by 1½ games and are a half-game back of Detroit. Toronto, the holder of that second spot, has lost 10 of its past 14 games.
“Our starting pitching continues to roll, certainly at the right time. The bullpen was solid again, and it had to be. An outstanding road trip — the confidence and energy are up. We’re really loose and having fun. Everybody is doing their part. Guys can’t wait to come to the ballpark. That’s what you want in September.” — Mariners manager Scott Servais
RHP Joe Wieland, who started one game this season, was traded to the Altanta Braves Wednesday for cash. He spent most of the season in AAA Tacoma, posting a 14-6 record and a 5.43 ERA with 118 strikeouts and 39 walks. Wieland, 26, tied for first in the Pacific Coast League in wins and was ninth in strikeouts. He was acquired in January from the Dodgers for INF Edwin Mejia . . . For the eighth time in nine years, the Mariners will open the season on the road, as MLB announced the club’s 2017 opener will be April 3 at Houston. Seattle’s home opener will also be against the Astros April 10 at Safeco Field . . . Cruz’s homer was his 10th against the Angels this season, including six in his last seven games. Per Elias Sports Bureau, only one player has more home runs against a team this season: Minnesota’s Brian Dozier has 11 against the Royals.
After an off-day Thursday, the Mariners begin a three-game series at Safeco at 7:10 p.m. Friday against Houston, the first of six games in the final 16 against the Astros. RH Felix Hernandez (11-5, 3.58) goes against RH Collin McHugh (10-10, 4.86).