The Mariners played spoiler when they hammered the Angels, 10-1 (box score) on a Monday night when Los Angeles had a chance to close the gap in the American League West standings. A strong outing from starter Taijuan Walker and a six-run seventh inning helped Seattle cruise to its largest margin of victory this season.
RF Seth Smith provided the big hit with a two-run homer in the second inning, giving Seattle its first lead at 2-1. The seventh inning was the big one — six runs to turn a three-run lead into a laugher.
The number of pitches the 23-year-old Walker throws between now and the end of the season may be the only intriguing storyline left in 2015 season. As his count rises, so do the chances that he’ll have at least one start skipped. If we don’t see Walker for another 10 days or so – if at all this season — he left a pretty good impression Monday night. His seven innings included four hits and one run. Walker improved to 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA over his first full major league season.
Smith added an RBI double in the fifth. Seattle had 12 hits, half in the seventh. That frame included three doubles. Things were clicking so well that even C John Hicks reached base, despite registering his fourth strikeout of the night. Hicks reached first on a strike-three wild pitch that went all the way to the wall behind home plate. Hicks and 1B Logan Morrrison (0-for-2 with two walks) were the only Mariners not to get a hit.
CF Shawn O’Malley was able to laugh about a scary moment in the second inning when he got hit in the side of the head by a thrown ball. O’Malley was trying to get back to second base on a throw from the catcher when the ball hit him in the left temple. O’Malley stayed down for several seconds while team trainer Rick Griffin checked on him, eventually deeming the rookie healthy enough to stay in the game . . . Seattle has not set its rotation beyond the Angels series . . . The Rangers’ win over Houston earlier in the evening temporarily helped Los Angeles move to within four games of the AL West-leading Astros but dropped the Angels 3½ games behind Texas in the wild-card race.
RHP Felix Hernandez’s quest for his first 20-win season continues Tuesday, when he’s scheduled to face rookie Nick Tropeano. Hernandez (17-8, 3.49 ERA) has never won more than 19 games in a season and might have to be perfect to top that – he hast three starts left. But he does bring a three-game winning streak. Tropeano (1-2, 5.66 ERA) made his major league debut at Safeco Field – as an Astro last September – and he earned the win, but he hasn’t been able to follow that up with much success.