SEATTLE (AP)—Sitting in the dugout before Thursday’s game, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked if his team’s power hitting—second worst in the American League in homers entering the day—was a major concern.
“You can’t just look at slugging percentage,” Scioscia said. “There’s a lot that goes into the offense.”
Then the Angels went out and scored all their runs via the long ball, thanks to a trio of homers by Juan Rivera(notes), Gary Matthews Jr.(notes) and Howie Kendrick(notes) that accounted for the Angels’ first three hits in a 3-0 win over the Seattle Mariners.
“We talked about slugging percentage before the game and those guys took it to heart,” Scioscia joked afterward.
The Angels could laugh about their barrage of solo shots—about a 1,000 feet worth of hits—thanks largely to the pitching of Joe Saunders(notes), who made sure the lead would stand up against Seattle’s anemic offense. Saunders tossed seven innings of four-hit ball as his offense did just enough to take three of four from the Mariners.
Rivera welcomed back Seattle starter Erik Bedard(notes)—scratched from his last start with a bad hamstring—by hooking a 3-1 pitch just inside the left-field pole with two outs in the first. Two innings later, Matthews went deep for the first time since Sept. 23, also against Seattle, with a line drive into the Angels’ bullpen in left.
The three homers were the only hits for the Angels until Chone Figgins(notes) and Erick Aybar(notes) followed up Kendrick’s homer with consecutive singles. Despite the lack of hits, Saunders made sure it was enough against Seattle’s anemic offense that was shut out for the fourth time this season.
“He did a great job of making adjustments tonight, getting some outs,” Scioscia said. “I don’t think he had his best stuff but he definitely made some pitches when he had to and got out of some jams.”
Only once did the Mariners get a baserunner to third against the Angels’ ace. And even then, Seattle flubbed its opportunity. With runners on first and third and two outs, Ichiro(notes) Suzuki got into a rundown between first and second. On third, Jose Lopez(notes) broke toward the plate but slowed when Kendrick looked toward home. Eventually Lopez ended up in a rundown and was tagged out by Figgins to end the inning.
“That was my call,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said of Suzuki getting picked off by Saunders. “I have him a steal in a situation (where) I didn’t think they would throw over there a second time.”
Saunders (6-2) struck out three and walked three, improving to 6-1 all-time against the Mariners and bouncing back from his last start in Texas when Saunders was rattled for seven runs and eight hits by the Rangers.
“It was my fault what I gave up in Texas,” Saunders said. “Tonight with Bedard out there, with the way he throws against us, I knew that I needed to throw up some zeros early and often.”
Bedard (2-2) was held out of his scheduled start last weekend against the Red Sox because of tightness in his hamstring. And aside from the two homers Bedard kept the Angels offense in check. He just needed a lot of pitches to scrape through five innings.
Making his first start in 11 days and limited to less than 100 pitches, Bedard finished the fifth at 95, giving way to Seattle’s bullpen. Bedard struck out six and walked only two.
“You always make mistakes. They don’t get all of them all the time,” Bedard said. “They just got those two.” ^Notes: Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single on the second pitch of the game from Saunders. … Former Mariners star Randy Johnson(notes) will get the start Friday night for the San Francisco Giants as they open an interleague series against Seattle. Johnson will be going for his 299th career victory. Johnson went 130-74 with Seattle.