Angels 5, Mariners 0
“I got out of running for a couple of days,” the Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher cracked.
Still, his ankle wasn’t the focus Wednesday night. It was Lackey’s arm that handcuffed the Seattle Mariners in a 5-0 victory.
Lackey was already nursing a twisted left ankle, which occurred while he was running recently. But even Johjima’s shot couldn’t stop the right-hander, who retired 14 straight batters during one stretch and helped the Angels rebound from an 11-3 loss to Seattle a night earlier.
“He’s our ace,” Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. “We know we can bounce back anytime he pitches.”
Lackey (6-3) shut out Seattle for six innings, allowing four hits and striking out four. After Ichiro Suzuki lined his first pitch for a single, Lackey stymied the Mariners until Johjima’s liner in the fifth. The ball hit off Lackey’s ankle and ricocheted to third baseman Chone Figgins, but he had no play on the infield single.
In his previous outing, Lackey threw eight shutout innings against Texas before allowing three runs in the ninth. He has won four of his last five decisions.
“Every night you need your pitcher to pitch like an ace and John has done that,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “With a little support, he’s going to put the wins up.”
When Seattle threatened in the sixth, Lackey danced his way out of a bases-loaded jam. Jose Lopez and Suzuki started the inning with consecutive singles and were at second and third with one out.
Pitching coach Mike Butcher went to the mound and discussed with Lackey the options. Lackey chose to intentionally walk lefty Raul Ibanez to load the bases — Lackey’s only walk—and face Richie Sexson.
The move worked, as Sexson grounded to Figgins, who threw home to force Lopez. Lackey then went to 3-2 on Jose Guillen and got his former Angels teammate to chase a curveball in the dirt to end the threat.
“We needed to score there and I didn’t get it done,” Sexson said. “It was frustrating. … That was a complete letdown right there not to get any runs.”
Dustin Moseley worked two perfect innings and Scot Shields pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to finish Los Angeles’ third shutout this season. Angels pitchers retired their final 11 batters, and Seattle was blanked for the third time.
“It got to the point after six innings where he was beat up a little bit,” Scioscia said about Lackey. “He pitched a great ballgame and got some big outs.”
Seattle starter Cha Seung Baek (1-1) was nearly Lackey’s equal, but lost for the first time in five starts. Baek’s only problems came in the first when the Angels packaged three hits and a walk.
Reggie Willits doubled to right-center on the second pitch of the game. After a walk to Vladimir Guerrero, Gary Matthews Jr. and Casey Kotchman followed with consecutive RBI singles to provide all the offense Lackey needed.
Baek scattered three hits after the first and left with one out in the seventh and Mike Napoli on first following a fielder’s choice. Napoli later scored on Willits’ single off reliever Eric O’Flaherty, and Orlando Cabrera chopped a two-run single through a drawn-in infield off Chris Reitsma for a 5-0 lead.
Baek allowed three runs and struck out three. He was coming off a complete game in a 9-2 win at Detroit on May 9.
“Once he got past the first inning he was awfully good,” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. “He made an adjustment and it made a difference.”
Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez will have his pitch count raised by 15-20 pitches for his next start on Sunday against San Diego. Hernandez threw 78 pitches on Tuesday night, his first start since April 18. … The Angels have outscored their opponents 43-15 in the first inning. … Suzuki had hits in seven straight at-bats before grounding out to first in the third.