Just one day after Kendry Morales(notes) broke his left leg jumping on home plate while celebrating a game-ending grand slam, Scioscia’s new policy against frenzied pileups in these situations was put to the test when Kendrick’s second homer of the game gave Los Angeles a 9-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
“Fortunately, we got through this celebration unscathed,” Scioscia said. “I mean, you take for granted that nothing’s going to happen. But as we saw yesterday, it could be different. I don’t know about it being ironic, but it feels good to come back and get a win.”
Kendrick had a clear path and touched home without a jump as his jubilant teammates ran on the field and kept a safe distance from the foul line before mobbing him.
“I wasn’t thinking about the celebration when I was rounding the bases. I was just thinking that we won the ballgame,” Kendrick said. “I just wanted to get to home plate so we could celebrate. It was awesome. I wouldn’t say it was strange, but it was safe. And if that’s going to keep guys from getting hurt, I’m all for it.”
The Angels had consecutive game-ending homers for the first time since Aug. 29-30, 1986, when Dick Schofield and Doug DeCinces did it against Detroit.
The timing of Kendrick’s clutch hit wasn’t lost on his teammates.
“I thought the way we celebrated was fine,” Mike Napoli(notes) said. “It was an unfortunate thing yesterday. One of our best hitters went down because of some silly thing like that, and it can’t happen again. So this is how we’re going to celebrate from now on. It’s all taken care of.”
Hideki Matsui(notes), who hit a two-run homer in the first, drew a leadoff walk in the ninth against closer David Aardsma(notes) (0-3). After an out, Napoli reached when his line drive popped out of Aardsma’s glove. Kendrick then worked the count to 3-2 before clearing the 18-foot wall in right-center with his fourth homer of the season.
“Watching the ball go over the wall, it was unbelievable,” Kendrick said. “To have two walkoffs two days in a row was phenomenal. I think that says a lot about our team and how we play the game. It’s an unfortunate situation with Kendry, and we’re going to miss him the next couple of months. But everybody’s got to pick it up.”
With the Angels scrambling for viable candidates to replace Morales at first base, Napoli played there for the first time in his big league career. A catcher by trade, he handled seven chances flawlessly—including a first-inning grounder by leadoff hitter Ichiro Suzuki(notes).
“You kind of figure the ball’s going to find you somehow, but it was nice to get it out of the way,” said Napoli, who played first base in 68 minor league games. “It wasn’t too bad, actually. I kept making sure I looked in the dugout in case they wanted to position me in a certain place. I hadn’t played it for a long time, but I felt comfortable out there.”
The loss was the Mariners’ seventh when leading after six innings, and the five-run margin was the largest they have coughed up in a loss this season.
“It’s happened quite often to us, so it’s not anything new,” Milton Bradley(notes) said. “Every game, we play a nip-and-tuck battle and the other teams keep coming up with big hits on us. To happen on back-to-back days like this, it’s just deja vu.”
Ian Snell(notes) held the Angels scoreless for three innings after giving up Matsui’s seventh homer. But manager Don Wakamatsu lost patience with the right-hander after he walked his first two batters in the fifth and pulled him with a 7-2 lead.
“The percentages on someone scoring always go up dramatically anytime you walk the leadoff guy,” Bradley said. “So when you’ve got a lead, you can’t afford to put runners on base for free.”
Bobby Abreu(notes) drew another bases-loaded walk in the sixth from rookie Kanekoa Texeira(notes). That brought in righty Shawn Kelley(notes) to face the lefty-swinging Matsui. But Eliezer Alfonzo(notes) was charged with catcher’s interference when Matsui’s bat made contact with his glove, scoring Erick Aybar(notes) to trim Seattle’s lead to 7-5.
Kelley gave up a homer to Kendrick in the seventh, cutting the Angels within one.
NOTES: The Angels played without Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter(notes), who was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Felix Hernandez(notes) on Saturday. Hunter was in the on-deck circle when Kendrick hit his game-winning homer. … Second base umpire Brian Knight left with a bruised left leg after getting struck by Josh Wilson’s(notes) potential inning-ending double-play grounder in the second. He was taken for precautionary X-rays. Wilson was credited with a single.