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April 1, 2014 at 11:23 PM

Mariners 8, Angels 3 — hits, runs and wins

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The Mariners offensive explosion continued. They had scored eight runs and banged out 10 hits with five extra base hits. Over the past two games, they’ve scored 18 runs on 21 hits with 12 extra base hits. That’s pretty good. 

But really the game wasn’t a blowout till the end. The turning point came in the third inning.

The Mariners were up 1-0 and had runners on second and third two outs and Robinson Cano at the plate. Angels manager Mike Scioscia did what almost any other manager would have done in that situation – he opted to have starting pitcher C.J. Wilson intentionally walk  Cano to load the bases and take his chances with Justin Smoak.

Besides giving the Angels a force out at every bag, the move also avoided pitching to Cano, who came into the game hitting .389 (14-for-36) with two doubles and two homers against Wilson in his career.

And really, would you rather face the guy who hit .314 last season or the guy who hit .223?

It wasn’t a tough decision.

“Why wouldn’t you?” Smoak said chuckling. “I don’t care if it’s lefty-on-lefty or not. There’s a reason why they do it.”

Everything about the move made sense, well, that is until Smoak ripped a 1-1 fastball into the left-center gap for a bases clearing double. The Mariners took that 4-0 lead and never looked back.

Scioscia defended his decision.

“Right now if you are looking at their lineup, Robinson Cano is the guy you want to try to minimize as much as you can,” Scioscia said. “Give Justin Smoak credit. He got some big hits last night and got some big hits tonight. If he continues it, Robinson Cano will get some pitches to hit. But right now, you’re going to want to make Justin Smoak swing the bat instead of Robinson.”

For the second straight night, Smoak tallied three RBIs in a game. By comparison, he had just two three-RBI games all of last season. He also had a single earlier in the game.

“I was just trying not to do too much,” he said. “There’s a reason why they do that. I like facing C.J. And I was just going up there trying to have a good at-bat.”

He has 10 RBI in 32 at-bats against Wilson in his career.

Smoak’s hit may have changed the game, but Brad Miller’s two homers made everything a little easier.

After striking out twice against Wilson in his first two at-bats, he hammered a solo home run into the right field seats in the fifth inning. In the ninth inning, he crushed a laser of a two-run homer to deep right-center off of Michael Kohn. Miller has 10 career home runs with eight of them have coming in four two-homer games.

“I will take them any way I can,” Miller said. “I’m just trying to drive the ball. My first two at-bats I felt pretty tentative and in-between. C.J. made me look pretty stupid.”

The Mariners got a solid start from Erasmo Ramirez. The diminutive right-hander pitched seven solid innings, giving up two runs on six hits with six strikeouts, no walks and one hit batter.

Before the game, manager Lloyd McClendon said he felt like Ramirez would pitch well for the Mariners. He was right.

“I just knew he was ready and knew he was ready to execute,” McClendon said. “He did a pretty darn good job.”

The only damage Ramirez allowed came in the fourth inning. He gave up a lead-off double to Josh Hamilton. Two batters later, he left a first-pitch, 89 mph fastball out over the plate to former teammate Raul Ibanez. Even at the ripe old age of 40, Ibanez won’t miss a cookie of a pitch like that. He pounded it over the wall in center field to cut the lead to 4-2. Things got worse for Ramirez as Brad Miller misplayed a sure ground ball out at shortstop and Hank Conger dumped a bloop single into right field in between three converging Mariners players. But Ramirez put an end to the unraveling. He came back to strike out Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun to end the inning and strand the runners.

“He made the pitches he needed to make,” McClendon said.

After that fourth inning, Ramirez didn’t allow another runner over the next three innings.



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