The deadlines associated with a 10:44 p.m. end time to Friday’s game meant there wasn’t much time for reaction from the clubhouse, but I did want to pass along a few comments from Mariners manager Eric Wedge.
Seattle, due to the struggles of starting pitcher Aaron Harang, went down five runs early to the Los Angeles Angels, but the M’s fought back and earned dozens of scoring chances as the visitors needed five pitchers to escape with the 6-3 win.
The comeback spirit won over Wedge despite stats like going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, leaving 13 men on base and striking out 11 times.
“I’ll tell you what, I love the way our guys fought tonight,” Wedge said. “When you get down early like that, it can be easy for the game to get away from you. (Relief pitcher Hector) Noesi came in and righted the ship, and our guys just kept fighting. We missed some opportunities, of course, with runners in scoring position, but we created opportunity after opportunity.
“If our guys battle and fight like that, we’re going to win a lot of ball games. That’s what they’re all about. That’s what we saw all spring, that’s what we saw early and that’s what we’ve seen here the last couple days. And that will play. They’re going to continue to get better with runners in scoring position, they’re going to continue to stay on the rise offensively, and that’s going to make all the difference.”
Wedge was then asked if this was a step forward for his 9-16 team, even in defeat.
“No doubt,” he said. “It’s a loss, it’s a tough loss, and they all are, but with the way these guys fought and competed and grinded through at bats, stayed alive defensively, the way they worked, that will play. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, with the talent we have in there and going about their business like that, like I said, that’s what they’re all about, that what we’re all about, and that’s what’s going to make the difference.”
Harang (0-3) saw his earned-run average increase from 10.24 to 11.37 in the loss as he was yanked after three innings. Wedge said he wasn’t overly concerned with the poor outing, and noted that the right-hander didn’t have his top fastball or command: “We’ll make sure he has a good work day, and he’s a veteran pitcher; he knows how to win at this level, and I’m sure he’ll be better next outing.”
There was one play that stood out in many people’s minds after the game, and that was when first baseman Justin Smoak got thrown out at home by L.A.’s Howie Kendrick following the pinch-hit, infield single by Dustin Ackley in the seventh inning. Smoak got the green light from third-base coach Jeff Datz, which raised questions from quite a few spectators.
The M’s were down by three runs and would’ve had the bases loaded if Smoak, who isn’t the most fleet of foot, was held up at third.
Wedge said he didn’t have issue with Datz sending Smoak.
“I mean that was a great play by Kendrick,” the manager said. “He knocks it down, comes up, throws it, falls down, and somehow or another makes a perfect throw. I went out there and the umpire told me that Smoak’s foot was up going over the plate. If his foot is down, he’s safe. He just had that front foot elevated.”
Said Smoak: “I was just running all the way. It was bang-bang. He tagged me on the leg, but I thought my foot might’ve been in there. He made a good play on it.”
The first baseman noted he had a bit of stutter step coming around third, but still thought he had a chance to make it.
And lastly, another quote from Wedge about Noesi, who really gave the M’s a chance to claw back into the game with three-plus innings of solid relief. Noesi allowed one run on two hits and had three strikeouts.
“Well, we’ve seen some stints, even last year at times, where he’s come out and done OK in the bullpen,” said Wedge, “so let’s see how it plays out. He’s done a nice job here. Obviously we’re playing a good lineup, and he did a helluva job. The bullpen in general did a great job. (Yoervis) Medina was fantastic out there, and they gave us every opportunity to come back.”