The Angels hammered Mariners starter Taijuan Walker on the way to another big first inning, and this time it held up as Los Angeles cruised to a 10-3 win (box). Seattle (69-66) lost for the eighth time in 10 games while falling five games back in the AL wild-card race. The Mariners have to pass the Yankees, the Royals, the Astros, the Tigers and the Orioles to earn the second wild card.
On a night when future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols hit two home runs to move into ninth place on the all-time list, his first-inning homer rang the loudest. His 423-foot solo shot followed homers by Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout for the homer-happy Angels, who jumped out to a 6-0 lead and chased Walker before he could get the third out.
Walker had a disastrous first inning. He hit the first batter with his first pitch, knocking Yunel Escobar out of the game, then faced his replacement, Cliff Pennington, after the Angels batted around — earning the distinction of facing 10 different hitters before coming out.
Switch pitcher Pat Venditte got the final out of the first inning before serving up a two-run homer in the second. Venditte gave up four runs off six hits but finished the fifth inning to help the Mariners not have to crush their entire bullpen. Steve Cishek and Vidal Nuno finished it off quietly.
Seattle’s pitchers had help from new OF Ben Gamel, who made diving catches in both left and right field.
2B Robinson Cano made history when he recorded his 30th double of the season in the first inning. He is one of four players in baseball history to hit 30 doubles in 12 consecutive seasons, joining Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker and Stan Musial.
Seattle had nine hits, led by Franklin Gutierrez’s 2-for-4 night with a two-run homer. But the Mariners were no match for LA’s 15 hits.
“It was over before it really got started. Obviously, Taijuan didn’t really have his best stuff tonight. He threw well the last time out in Chicago, so I was surprised by what happened tonight.” – Mariners manager Scott Servais
In two starts against the Angels this season, Walker is 0-1 with a 21.21 ERA (11 ER, 4.2 IP) and has given up four home runs . . . Gamel, acquired from the Yankees on Thursday, hit leadoff for a second night in a row . . . Pujols moved into ninth place on the all-time home run list with No. 587. He who moved past Frank Robinson, then celebrated by hitting No. 588 in the second inning . . . Venditte, the first switch-pitcher in the major leagues, served up home runs with both arms — Pujols with a right-handed pitch and Calhoun from the left side. It marked the second consecutive appearance in which Venditte has done that. The Rangers’ Rougned Odor and Ryan Rua took him deep during Wednesday’s 14-1 loss . . . Escobar did not return but appears to have nothing more than a bruise on the back of his hand. X-rays were negative.
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (14-10, 4.01 ERA) will try to buck his recent trend of rough starts when the Mariners host the Angels for the series finale at 1:10 p.m. Sunday. It’s the first of back-to-back afternoon games for the Mariners, who wrap up the holiday weekend by hosting the Texas Rangers Monday. Considering how that series has gone, it might be a good idea to take care of business against the Angels and RHP Matt Shoemaker (9-13, 3.91 ERA).