06/04/08 8:29 PM ET
Angels complete sweep of Mariners
Weaver goes six innings to pick up win, with assist to 'pen
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
The Angels finished off a three-game dismissal of the Mariners on a bleak Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field, and they did it without a single swing from Vladimir Guerrero, a man known to bludgeon the Mariners -- and other clubs -- into submission by himself.
With Guerrero back home along with setup man Scot Shields getting examined for a knee hyperflexion and strained oblique, respectively, the Angels gathered their resources and subdued the Mariners again, 5-4, in front of 32,774.
"For us, we're just going out and playing the game," said Torii Hunter, who drove in two runs and scored one, looking like a fullback on a power sweep. "We just wanted to win the series. Coming in to sweep is even better.
"They're in our division. We're not sending a message or anything. We just play the game."
The Angels are playing it better than all but two teams in the Majors, the Rays and the Cubs, and the Halos lead a tougher-than-expected American League West by 3 1/2 games over the A's, the team they face three times over the weekend in Oakland.
The Angels struck quickly with three first-inning runs and held on behind Jered Weaver's tenacity and a bullpen that has emerged as a force again for manager Mike Scioscia.
Francisco Rodriguez nailed down his MLB-leading 24th save with a perfect ninth inning after Darren Oliver and Justin Speier had delivered three outs of setup relief apiece.
"Weav wasn't as crisp as he's been, but our bullpen came through again," Scioscia said. "Darren Oliver's been doing a terrific job, and it was good to see Justin come in and clean up that eighth inning. It was a good day for those guys to get six big outs for us.
"Frankie, he was great again. His stuff was really alive."
Weaver, who had the comfort of pitching with a lead from the outset, moved to 5-6 with six innings of work, yielding four earned runs on 10 hits. Carlos Silva (3-6) absorbed the loss.
Silva walked Reggie Willits leading off and surrendered an opposite-field single to Maicer Izturis. Howie Kendrick's double over first base drove in Willits, and Hunter's two-run single on a bullet to left completed the early uprising.
"Reggie does as good a job as anybody in baseball at seeing pitches," Scioscia said. "He knows leading off he's going to work counts, get pitchers into counts, make them throw pitches.
"Reggie leading off with a walk was big, then Izzy's two-strike pitch, going the other way and Howie going the other way .... there are some positives with opening a game. Silva's tough. You could see later in the game how he settled in and was effective."
Jose Lopez's third homer of the series got one run back in the first, and two singles and Yuniesky Betancourt's RBI grounder made it 3-2 in the second.
The Angels extended their lead to 5-2 in the fourth. Hunter walked, moved to third on Gary Matthews Jr.'s single and scored on Mike Napoli's sacrifice fly.
Catcher Kenji Johjima was fully extended awaiting the throw from Ichiro Suzuki on Napoli's shallow fly ball, and while Hunter made contact, it was nothing close to the damage he could have done to the Mariners' receiver.
"I gave him a little shove, but it could have been worse," Hunter said, having spared Johjima.
Brandon Wood's two-out single delivered Matthews from second.
Lopez's two-run single with two outs in the fourth made it a one-run game again. In the sixth, Betancourt, moving on the pitch, was thrown out trying to score from first on a single by Suzuki. Garret Anderson made a quick relay on the move to Izturis, whose delivery to Napoli beat Betancourt by a wide margin.
"That was a great relay we made to cut that run off," Scioscia said.
It was a great series all around for the Angels, who are so much more than Guerrero, so much more than any one, two or three athletes.
"Vlad's certainly one of the keystones for our offense," Scioscia said, hoping to have Guerrero back in the lineup in Oakland. "But you have to be deeper than one guy.
"Those top three guys were on base five times between them, scoring a run apiece. That's good production."
Production along with quality pitching and defense added up to three consecutive wins against a Mariners outfit that was supposed to be on the Angels' heels -- or studying them in the rearview mirror -- all season.
Seattle certainly didn't anticipate being 15 1/2 games off the pace in the first week of June.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.