Mariners 7, Athletics 1
SEATTLE (AP)—Jose Guillen’s outburst Thursday is why teams keep letting him go. His homer Friday night is why they keep bringing him back.
Guillen hit a two-run home run into the rarely reached second deck, and Adrian Beltre’s three-run double gave Felix Hernandez far more than he needed to defeat the Oakland Athletics 7-1, ending Seattle’s season-high seven-game losing streak.
“That was a very important win for us,” Guillen said. “Guys were starting to panic, saying, ‘Let’s go! We have to get a win.”’
Panic was replaced by awe at Guillen’s drive off Dallas Braden that capped a four-run fourth. After Guillen drove the 2-2 pitch to left, he took four steps to admire his work before dropping his bat and trotting on his 13th home run.
That made it 7-1, the largest lead Seattle has had in a game since the All-Star break. The Mariners are 6-10 in that span.
“That was a moon shot,” said Mariners manager John McLaren.
Braden (1-6), who lost his sixth consecutive decision, said Guillen hit his misplaced fastball “to Vancouver”—the Canadian city three hours north of the left-field wall. The ball also cleared the scoreboard, a bullpen and a fan-access stairwell.
“I’m grinning from ear to ear,” Guillen said. “You can see my beautiful smile. Bet you didn’t think I had one.”
He didn’t Thursday night. Guillen became enraged at teammates’ criticism for him taking a 3-1 pitch in hopes of drawing a walk late in a one-run game that became a loss. He angrily denounced his teammates in a profanity-laced discussion with bench coach Mike Goff that could be heard across a mostly empty clubhouse.
Before Friday night’s game, Guillen said the eruption was not the major, team-altering explosion people have come to expect from the volatile slugger, who has been with eight teams in eight years.
“It’s too early,” said Guillen, his team still just four games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West, despite having just endured its longest losing streak of the season.
“Trust me, if somebody needs that (explosion), I’ll be the first guy to do that—start a fight or something,” he said. “I’m not afraid to stir anything up. Some teams need that.”
Hernandez rebounded from a mental meltdown in his previous start to allow seven hits and one run—Nick Swisher’s third homer in four at bats—over seven innings. He struck out seven, walked two and won a bet with his girlfriend that he would color his black hair blond if he lost.
Hernandez threw a season-high 120 pitches—nine more than he threw in a one-hitter at Boston April 11. The 21-year-old ace has struggled with injury and inconsistency since then. In his last start at Toronto, he became angry at an umpire’s call and surrendered five runs on his next two pitches.
But he’s had no problems with Oakland. Swisher’s homer is the only run Hernandez (7-6) has allowed in three starts, all wins, against the A’s this season—a span 23 innings.
“Against us, he’s been close to unhittable,” A’s manager Bob Geren said.
What did Hernandez learn from Toronto?
“I learned you can’t lose your focus,” he said. “You lose your focus, you see what happened in Toronto.”
Beltre, who is batting .359 with 25 RBIs in 19 games since July 4, hit his seventh double in seven games to give Seattle a 3-1 lead in the third.
Marco Scutero, subbing for six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez, who missed his eighth start in 11 games with a sore back, allowed Guillen’s chopper with two outs to bang off the heel of his glove. The error loaded the bases, and Beltre hit a two-hopper over the diving Scutero’s glove to clear the bases.
Kenji Johjima led off the fourth with a single that broke an 0-for-11 drought. After a sacrifice and a popup, Ichiro Suzuki flipped a single into left that scored his Japanese teammate to make it 4-1. Suzuki took second base on a poor, dribbling throw home by Shannon Stewart, and scored when Jose Vidro singled.
Braden allowed seven runs—four earned—on seven hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out three. Braden, who has had four stints with Oakland after recalls from Triple-A, hasn’t won since April 24 at Baltimore.
When the scoreboard showed a replay of Barry Bonds hitting his 754th home run between innings, boos were louder than smattering applause from the 37,693 fans. … Seattle improved to 19-8 against left-handed starters, second-best in the major leagues behind Detroit’s 22-8.