Having won three – yes, three! – games in a row, if the Seattle Mariners take the Angels today it will be more than just a sweep.
It will be the second-longest winning streak of their season.
To the hot bats of Ichiro (.342) and Russell Branyan (.321), add that of Adrian Beltre, who has hit .341 in the past seven games.
It’s Garrett Olson vs. Ervin Santana, and Olson is getting the opportunity to show himself as a starting pitcher as the Mariners look down the road into the none-too-distant future.
Ichiro leads off, looking to extend that 23-game hitting streak.
That was quick!
On the first pitch of the game, I`hiro doubled, so the streak lives – 24 games, one behind his own team record.
Yuniesky Betancourt dropped the bunt and, with seven sacrifices, is now tied for the American League lead.
Beltre remained hot, singling Ichiro home with his 21st RBI, and stole his sixth base of the year with two outs.
Santana hit Branyan with a pitch, and Jose Lopez picked up his club-leading 26th RBI with a single.
Mr. Olson will take the mound with a lead.
Endy Chavez worked the count full, then hit his second home run of the season.
It’s a reminder that when a apitcher shuts out the opposing team after getting a run or two, it seems easier to add insurance runs.
The Mariners aren’t scrambling to catch up, they’re now tryintg to play their game and pad that lead.
In the second: Mariners 3, Angels 0
Griffey drew a one-out walk, Branyan doubled him to third and the Angels intentionally walked Lopez to get to catcher Guillermo Quiroz.
Chavez grounded into a force play, but picked up another RBI when Lopez scored from third.
Three innings in, the Mariners look like the agressors.
In the third: Mariners 6, Angels 0
Mr. Olson is fine, thank you
Olson allowed a solo home run to Mike Napoli on his 57th pitch of the afternoon, but quietly retired the next batter.
That’s two hits allowed in five innings, and among his 57 pitches, 42 have been strikes.
If you’re wondering how many left-handed starters Seattle can put together at any one time, consider this: Olson, Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, Jason Vargas and Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Yes, teams will soon be sniffing around to see which ones are available.
After five: Mariners 6, Angels 1
And more offense
Icihro homered in the sixth inning, his third hit of the day, and Betancourt and Beltre singled behind him.
Santana is gone. This game feels the same way.
In the sixth: Mariners 8, Angels 1
Not so fast
Olson hit the wall in a hurry, and there was no getting him through it. In the sixth, a walk, two quick singles, a sacrifice fly and a home run put four on the board for the Angels and chased Olson.
Miguel Batista to the rescue? He got out of the inning.
After six: Mariners 8, Angels 5
Lopez doubled for his third hit of the game, Quiroz dropped a sacrifice bunt and got the runner to third base with one out.
With the infield shifted in, Chavez popped out. Gutierrez grounded out.
In the seventh: Mariners 8, Angels 5
Batista got two outs in the seventh, then gave up a Chone Figgins single, a stolen base and RBI single to Bobby Abreau that cut the lead to two.
Sean White to the rescue? He struck out Guerrero.
Runs came easily early, not at all late.
The Mariners had two runners thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning – Ichiro and Beltre – but didn’t get a run home.
In position to blow the game open, they didn’t. Now it’s up to the bullpen, with not much margin for error.
In the eighth: Mariners 8, Angels 6
All the runs not scored, the innings the bullpen had to work to get to the ninth – now it’s just another save opportunity for David Aardsma.
Who walked the first man he faced, pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis.
Which got the game to Guerrereo. He droped a perfectly placed pop fly double on the right field foul line, scoring one run.
Bases loaded, two outs.
Final score: Angels 9, Mariners 8