SEATTLE (AP)—Richie Sexson had postgame ice on his shoulder. Ice on his knee. And, finally, fans off his back.
The struggling slugger, vilified for two seasons in Seattle, hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer, Carlos Silva worked eight effective innings and the Mariners again beat their AL West nemesis Los Angeles Angels 8-3 Saturday night.
“It’s nice to do something well at home,” said Sexson, a native of southwest Washington who is trying to rebound in a contract year from career lows in 2007.
His homer off Jon Garland in the fifth came after he popped out with the bases loaded, drawing more boos from the crowd.
“They want me to do good. I’ve never had a beef with the fans. I didn’t think it was odd that they were cheering me,” he said with a chuckle. “I think they like me as a guy. They just want to see me do good.”
Two weeks into their promising season, the Mariners are doing good. They’ve already done something they did only once last year: win a series against the Angels.
Raul Ibanez hit his third home run in two games for Seattle, which in 2007 lost 13 of 19 games to Los Angeles and finished six games behind the Angels in the West.
“It’s only two games, but right now we feel good, because last year they kicked us all the way through the season,” Jose Vidro said after his two singles and two RBIs.
The Angels, winners of three of the last four AL West titles, aren’t paying much attention to the upstart Mariners yet. They’re too focused on going 4-for-28 with runners in scoring position in the series, dealing with a ragged bullpen and being without their top two starters, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar.
Silva (2-0) gave up 11 hits, his most since Aug. 27, 2006, when he was with Minnesota. But thanks largely to three double-play grounders by Gary Matthews Jr., Silva allowed only three runs to continue his impressive debut with Seattle since signing a $48 million contract.
“That’s the way I pitch,” said Silva, who walked one and threw 98 pitches before Sean Green finished the ninth. “I trust my defense and I don’t like to walk people.”
Matthews’ double plays were a career high in game for him.
“We’re not firing on all cylinders,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I don’t think anyone is feeling totally into the game at the plate.”
Sexson finally is.
After beginning his offseason by hitting earlier than he usually does, Sexson says he’s feeling as great as he ever has this early in a season. His .205 average last year was the lowest among those with at least 312 at-bats, and his 21 homers and 63 RBIs were career lows for a season without a major injury.
Now he’s got nine RBIs in 12 games.
“If I feel the way I feel right now all season, I’m going to have a big year,” said the slugger, who is making $14 million this season. “My bat is as quick as it’s ever been.”
The Angels took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on a run-scoring double-play grounder by Matthews. Then they felt the sting of center fielder Torii Hunter’s bruised toe.
Hunter’s injury forced him to be the designated hitter and put Friday’s DH, 35-year-old Garret Anderson, in left field. Anderson ran down Adrian Beltre’s catchable flyball in the fifth but had it slap off the end of his glove.
Instead of the third out, Beltre had a double. Vidro singled him home to tie the game.
Sexson then sent Garland’s 2-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field for his second home run to put the Mariners up 5-3.
Garland (1-2) allowed 12 hits and six runs—three earned—in 5 1-3 innings. He walked one.
Hunter, who hurt his toe late in Friday’s game while running into the outfield wall chasing down a triple, hinted he could have played in the field and might on Sunday.
After successfully testing his sprained right ankle by throwing Friday, Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez told Scioscia he was ready to return for the first time since Monday. … Putz completed a fourth consecutive pain-free day of throwing on flat ground. He’s been out since April 1 with a ribcage injury. The Mariners still don’t know when he may return. … Angels 2B Howie Kendrick went 3-for-4 after missing three games with a jammed right thumb.