Johjima leads Mariners’ 9-6 comeback win
SEATTLE (AP)—The Los Angeles Angels, owners of the best record in baseball and the first team to clinch a playoff spot two weeks ago, still can’t ease off the throttle with five games remaining.
The Angels have one final goal—home-field advantage throughout the playoffs—but the Seattle Mariners denied them that with a surprising 9-6 victory Tuesday night.
Kenji Johjima drove in three runs to lead the Mariners’ comeback from a four-run deficit that snapped a 12-game losing streak.
The Mariners, who trailed 6-2 in the middle of the sixth, scored four runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the game then added three in the seventh. Johjima had a two-run double in the sixth and a run-scoring single in the seventh.
It was a game with varying significance for both teams. The Angels (97-60) are holding off Tampa Bay (95-62) for home-field advantage while the Mariners are barely fending off 100 losses.
The Rays swept a doubleheader from Baltimore on Tuesday so the Angels’ magic number to clinch home-field remains at four with the five games remaining.
“After we (clinched the division), it became our next goal,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re going to have to earn that. It’s a goal that the only way to get there is to focus on the game at hand. We have to turn the page on this one and get to tomorrow’s game and hopefully do some things better than we did tonight.”
But center fielder Torii Hunter said what matters is how the Angels play, not their competitors.
“When you’re out there on the field, you’re trying to win,” Hunter said. “We’re trying to get that home-field advantage but not just that. We’re trying to win period. So we’re not really looking at Tampa. We don’t even know what Tampa did today. We’re just worried about the Angels.
“We can’t worry about what the Rays are doing or the Red Sox. We don’t even care who comes at us, who we play. That’s the attitude competitors have. We don’t care.”
Seattle (58-99) is on the verge of 100 losses, which would be the fourth time in franchise history. The Mariners are trying to avoid the dubious distinction of being the first major league team with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 games. Two weeks ago it seemed they would not get there, then came an 0-11 road trip and the 12-game losing streak.
“When streaks like that get to be five, six, seven games, it’s an ugly number no matter where it’s at,” Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. “Once you get in that six, seven range it’s weighing on you.”
Angels starter Jered Weaver gave up all four runs in the sixth. Weaver might have escaped much of the damage but couldn’t handle a comebacker by Jeremy Reed. It grazed off his glove and slithered into shallow right field. It was ruled a hit, drove in a run and set up Johjima’s double.
“It was one of those ones that looked like it was harder than what it was,” Weaver said. “It kind of slowed down on me and went off the tip of my glove. An easy comebacker, double-play ball. Obviously, I didn’t make that play.”
Reed saw it the same way.
“Usually when you hit them real hard it goes straight into the glove and you get more frustrated,” Reed said. “But that one hit off the end. He might have thought it was harder than it was but we finally got a break and were able to score some runs after that as well.”
Reed had a one-out RBI single off Kevin Jepsen (0-1) in the seventh to break the tie.
Roy Corcoran (6-2) went two innings to earn the victory.
J.J. Putz worked a routine ninth to pick up his 14th save of the season and the 100th of his career.
After Howie Kendrick bounced a two-out single through the middle in the second, Matthews crushed his two-run homer to deep center. It was his eighth of the season, but first since June 11 against Tampa Bay.
The Mariners tied it in the third when Johjima singled and advanced to third on a two-out double by Ichiro Suzuki that extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Yuniesky Betancourt drove in both with a broken-bat single to center.
Kendrick singled to begin the Angels’ three-run fourth. Matthews walked and Napoli his a 447-foot shot off Ryan Feierabend.
Valdimir Guerrero made it 6-2 in the sixth with a sacrifice fly.
Angels LHP Joe Saunders remained in Los Angeles dealing with a reluctant kidney stone. It’s not certain when he will rejoin the team but Scioscia indicated it won’t be more than another day or two. … RHP Dustin Moseley (2-4), recalled from Triple-A on Sept. 1, will fill Saunders’ spot Thursday. … Riggleman said RHP Carlos Silva, who came out of his previous start with back problems, is not going to start Thursday but there is still the chance he may start one of the weekend games.