Mariners rout Angels, gain ground in playoff race
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Seattle's moribund offense finally broke through against the Los Angeles Angels' vaunted bullpen, which gave up 10 runs in two innings midway through the game.
Mike Zunino's two-run double keyed a four-run fifth, and the Mariners climbed within a game of the second AL wild-card spot by routing the AL West leaders 13-2 on Tuesday night.
Seattle broke it open with six runs in the sixth. The 13 runs tied a season high, and were one fewer than the Mariners had in their previous eight games combined.
''When you're not scoring runs, it lingers. Hopefully, this will loosen us up,'' Zunino said. ''We've been the same team the whole year. We know we're going to rely heavily on pitching and defense. And when the bats get hot, that's when everything's going to click. Tonight guys had good at-bats. Hopefully, today was a big building block and we can carry that on the next couple of weeks.''
The Mariners haven't been to the postseason since 2001, when they won 116 games under manager Lou Piniella and tied the major league mark set by the 1906 Chicago Cubs.
''Given what Seattle was going through the last 10-12 years, if I'd have said leaving spring training that on Sept. 16 we'd be two games out of the wild card, would you take it?'' manager Lloyd McClendon said. ''I don't think there's anybody associated with the Seattle Mariners who would have said no.''
One night after becoming the first team in the majors to secure a playoff trip, the Angels lost for only the fourth time in 21 games. But their magic number for clinching the AL West went down to two because of Oakland's 6-3 loss to Texas.
The Athletics still lead the wild-card race by a game over Kansas City, which has a one-game edge on the Mariners for the final postseason berth in the AL.
''You have to keep things in perspective and look at the big picture,'' McClendon said. ''My guys have had a fantastic run. We don't want to look back down that road because it was a little shaky at times, but we can see the finish line and we're going to keep charging ahead.''
Carson Smith (1-0) earned his first major league victory with two innings of hitless relief in his fifth appearance. Mariners starter Roenis Elias allowed two runs and five hits in three-plus innings before leaving due to elbow stiffness with a 2-0 deficit.
This was the fifth time in Elias' last six starts that his teammates failed to score while he was in the game. The rookie left-hander hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last 10 outings, but is only 3-4 during that stretch.
Angels righty Cory Rasmus, making his fourth start since Garrett Richards went down with a season-ending knee injury on Aug. 20, made 42 pitches through four innings and retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced. The only blemish was a leadoff single by Kyle Seager in the second.
Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia has used a committee approach to get through all five starts Richards has missed, and the Angels were 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in the other three games in which Rasmus led the way.
''I'd like to do all I can, but I guess that's all I'm doing for now,'' Rasmus said. ''At the end of the day, it's their decision on what they feel if I get tired, look a little tired or whatever. Today, I was just kind of cruising. I was pretty efficient throughout the four innings I threw, and that made it a little better on my body.''
Jason Grilli replaced Rasmus in the fifth with a 2-0 lead and gave up a two-run double by Zunino, ending an 0-for-18 drought by the Mariners with runners in scoring position. Chris Taylor chased Grilli with an RBI double and Dustin Ackley capped the rally with another run-scoring double against Mike Morin.
Angels: Rookie RHP Matt Shoemaker, removed from Monday night's 8-1 win after 7 2-3 innings, is expected to miss at least one turn in the rotation because of a mild strain on his left side. Shoemaker is 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA. ... Josh Hamilton returned to the lineup, batting sixth as the DH. He went 1 for 3 after missing 11 games because of an injured right shoulder.
Mariners: James Paxton (6-2, 1.83 ERA) threw seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball against the Angels in his season debut and beat them again six days later. But he didn't pitch again for Seattle until Aug. 2, after missing more than 3 1/2 months because of a strained muscle in his left side.
Angels: C.J. Wilson (12-9, 4.61) has a 6.64 ERA in 13 starts since June 19 - the last time he pitched seven full innings. He went five innings last Friday against Houston and left with a 3-2 deficit, but got credit for an 11-3 win after his teammates got him off the hook with seven runs in the bottom of the fifth.