Don Wakamatsu felt this game started getting away from the Mariners when they failed to score after loading the bases in the first inning against Joe Saunders.
He also felt Luke French and Chris Jakubauskas weren’t aggressive enough in attacking the Angels’ lineup.
Both are accurate. However, this game, a 10-0 Seattle loss, got away from the Mariners, in my humble opinion, because the Angels fielded a demonstrably superior lineup.
There’s really not a weak spot from 1 to 9, while the Mariners, particularly without Ichiro and Russ Branyan — not to mention Adrian Beltre and Ken Griffey Jr. — are loaded with vulnerable spots. That’s four hits and no runs in their last 18 innings, if you’re scoring at home. And scoring at home is something the Mariners haven’t done since Saturday.
Let’s talk for a moment about Vladimir Guerrero. Wasn’t it about a month ago that it looked like he was fading as an impact hitter? Well, since coming off the disabled list for a strained left calf and lower left hamstring strain (on top of the tear in his right pectoral that put him on the DL earlier in the year), Guerrero has been hitting like a man possessed. That also coincides with Mike Scioscia’s decision to use him strictly as a designated hitter. Since coming off the DL, Guerrero is hitting .337 (35-for-104) with 10 homers and 17 RBI in 26 games.
The home run he hit off Jakubauskas in the seventh — his second of the game — was classic Vladdy. He took a curve ball at his ankles and sent it into orbit.
“Did you see Vlad hit the curve ball off the ground? I was going to catch that ball in the dirt, and he hit it the upper deck,” Mariners catcher Rob Johnson marveled. “He’s a bad-ball hitter, and he’s a good-ball hitter.”
Jakubauskas was lamenting the four-pitch walk to Torii Hunter that preceded the homer.
“Walk a guy in this league and bad things happen,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a good pitch, bad pitch. That guy should never have been on, and I should have been going after Vladdy with a different mindset.”
Here’s what Scioscia had to say about the second Guerrero homer: “The breaking ball he hit in the upper deck was incredible. There aren’t many guys in baseball who can do that. Since he has come off the DL, he’s been on track. He’s been terrific. We need him. If we’re swinging the bats to our capabilities, our lineup gets deep in a hurry, and Vlad is right in the middle of that.”
The Mariners found out first-hand how deep the Angels’ lineup is.
(Associated Press photo of Guerrero being congratulated after his first homer Monday).