SEATTLE (AP)—Jack Cust(notes) saw the ball come off Carlos Peguero’s(notes) bat and thought at the very least he should touch home plate considering there were two outs in the ninth inning, even if Peguero’s fly ball likely meant extra innings.
Then when the most unlikely of events happened, especially with a nine-time Gold Glove winner standing in center field, Seattle’s designated hitter went back and tapped the plate one more time as the winning run, just to be sure.
No need to add any more wackiness to an already unusual ending.
Peguero’s fly ball would have sent the game to the 10th inning on Thursday afternoon. But Los Angeles center fielder Torii Hunter(notes) could not track the ball and it fell onto the outfield grass, giving the Mariners an unlikely sun-aided 2-1 win over the Angels.
Seattle used a check-swing infield single by Cust off Angels reliever Scott Downs(notes) (1-1), a sacrifice bunt by Adam Kennedy(notes) and Peguero’s single to take both games of the brief two-game set with the Angels and hand Los Angeles a fifth straight loss.
And it’ll be remembered as one of the oddest endings either team has been associated with.
“I saw it off the bat and ran after it till it’s highest point and didn’t see it anymore. I just battled, tried to find it, stand there as long as I could, put my glove where I thought it would fall in,” Hunter said. “I just couldn’t see it. You can’t catch what you can’t see.”
Losing a ball in the sun isn’t new for Hunter, who made a tremendous leaping grab while crashing into the center field wall to rob Peguero of at least a double in the seventh inning.
“But (I’ve) never lost the ball to lose the game,” Hunter said. “That stings even more.”
For Peguero, a rookie the Mariners hope could be the answer to their lack of stability in left field, the pounding he took from his teammate for the odd game-wining hit was welcomed.
“Something happened, a good something happened,” Peguero said.
If anyone knows what Hunter faced on Peguero’s fly ball, it was Seattle’s Michael Saunders(notes). In the top of the ninth, Saunders danced all over center field, trying to fight off the sun to catch a fly ball by Alberto Callaspo(notes). That was the most obvious example of Saunders struggling with the sun, but it was a problem all afternoon.
“For the middle to late (innings) it was brutal. I was doing the two-step out there on one of them. I lost it for a good two to three seconds probably,” Saunders said. “Luckily it came out of the sun for me. Obviously, you saw one of the greatest out there and he lost it in the sun. It was awful.”
David Pauley(notes) (2-0) got the win for Seattle, pitching the ninth inning after Doug Fister(notes) went eight innings and continued a run of impressive performances by the Mariners starting rotation. Fister went eight innings, giving up six hits and one run.
In its brief four-game homestand, Seattle’s starters were brilliant. Michael Pineda(notes), Felix Hernandez(notes), Jason Vargas(notes) and Fister all worked at least seven innings—30 total between the foursome—and allowed a combined three earned runs.
In 15 games this month, Mariners starters have gone at least seven innings 11 times.
“It’s been outstanding. That’s the only word I can think of,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “Consistently getting us deep into ball games. Each starter focusing on what they need to do and doing their job and doing the work in between starts so when they go out there they are giving themselves an opportunity to be at their best.”
Fister’s only run allowed came in the fourth when he left a changeup over the middle of the plate that Howie Kendrick(notes) drove just over the hand-operated scoreboard in left field. It was the Angels’ first run since the eighth inning on Monday night in Oakland, a span of 24 innings.
But Fister didn’t fold, bouncing back to retire 13 of the final 17 batters he faced. He gave up a leadoff double to Alexi Amarista(notes) in the fifth and later walked Bobby Abreu(notes), but got Maicer Izturis(notes) to ground into a double play to end that threat.
Seattle’s other run came when Luis Rodriguez(notes) doubled to start the fifth, the Mariners first hit off Angels’ starter Dan Haren(notes). Rodriguez scored on Chris Gimenez’s(notes) sacrifice fly, barely beating Hunter’s throw from center field.
Haren also went eight innings and allowed just three hits.
NOTES: Hunter has spent most of the season in right field, but was moved to center to give Peter Bourjos(notes) a day off. “I think he knows the neighborhood,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia joked before Thursday’s game. “I heard he’s played it before so we’ll give him a shot.” … Seattle begins interleague play on Friday with a three-game weekend series in San Diego. The Angels go home to host Atlanta. … Kendrick had his 19th multi-hit game and leads the American League. He left in the bottom of the ninth inning with tightness in his right hamstring. He was thrown out trying to steal second in the top of the inning.
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