The sight of Jose Guillen holding court with the media from Seattle and Los Angeles before Monday night's game was hardly a surprise. Guillen, always a focal...

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The sight of Jose Guillen holding court with the media from Seattle and Los Angeles before Monday night’s game was hardly a surprise.

Guillen, always a focal point when the Angels come to town, has caught fire, having hit .375 with two homers, two doubles, a triple, four runs batted in and five scored on the recent seven-game trip to Minnesota and Texas. Not to mention the four runs he helped generate in a game against the Twins after breaking up a double play with a takeout slide at second.

But what was a surprise during Guillen’s impromptu gathering was the conciliatory tone he continued to take toward his once-hated former team and manager Mike Scioscia. A feud between Guillen and Scioscia led to Guillen being tossed off the Angels’ roster in the middle of a pennant race with a week to go in the 2004 season.

“I know I ran into trouble with him over there, but he is a great manager,” said Guillen, who indicated he’d have no problem telling that to Scioscia.

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“Why not? We make mistakes in life, and we try to learn from them and move on.”

Guillen insists his actions with the Angels three years ago were largely misunderstood and he paid a price. He says he isn’t much different as a player these days, perceived as being one of Seattle’s team leaders, than he was when becoming an outcast in Anaheim.

“Any of you [media] ever heard of me getting into trouble away from the field?” he asked, rhetorically, adding that he’s a “family man” who doesn’t drink heavily or “get into fights in the street.”

“I just hope people realize and understand,” he said, “I’m not this big animal guy.”

But Guillen, sporting a grin from ear to ear, quickly added that he’s never been shy about speaking his mind and will keep on doing it.

“Sorry,” he said, still smiling. “It is what it is, and I am what I am.”

What gives?

Mystery reigned after the game as to the reasons for a bizarre first-inning strikeout call on Ichiro that led to an ejection for Mariners manager John McLaren.

Ichiro argued that he’d foul-tipped the ball and that it hit the dirt.

“I am not a man who lies,” he said after the game.

Angels catcher Jeff Mathis agreed, saying, “He did foul tip it.”

Even plate umpire Gary Darling told a reporter after the game that he gave a foul-tip sign. But Darling ruled the play a strikeout, even though replays showed the ball clearly hit the ground.

McLaren had argued with Darling, asking him to appeal to third-base umpire Jerry Meals, but was told it wasn’t necessary and that Meals would get involved if he saw something different.

As he walked back to the dugout, McLaren said his players told him replays showed the ball hitting the dirt.

At that point, McLaren said, he threw his hands up in the air as if to say, “What gives?”

Meals — who isn’t the crew chief — immediately ejected McLaren, who stormed from the dugout and engaged in a verbal confrontation with the umpire. The crowd roared its approval, but McLaren was still out of the game and wouldn’t say anything more about the incident afterward.

Ichiro added that he’d never seen such a series of bewildering calls, on the strikeout and the ejection, by an umpiring crew in his career.


• Despite their ongoing battle for first place, the Mariners and Angels did their best to downplay talk of this being a do-or-die series.

“If one team ends up sweeping another either way, or you win two out of three or you lose two out of three … it’s not life or death for either team,” Scioscia said. “Either of those teams will have their opportunity. I don’t think you want to do anything to put a tag on a game that’s going to become a distraction.”

McLaren said the games would be big, but added: “It’s not so big that you’ve got to lose perspective of where you are during the season.”

• The Angels entered the series without streaking hitters Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman in the lineup. Figgins has been the hottest hitter in the majors since June 1, sporting a .393 average, but had missed the Angels’ past five games heading into Monday after spraining his left wrist in a game last week.

Kotchman had missed the past four games with a sprained left middle finger and bruised left thumb. He’d been hitting .309 this month, with four doubles in his past five starts. Both are listed as day to day.

For the record

73-56 .566

Streak: L3

Home: 41-25

Road: 32-31

vs. AL West: 22-20

vs. L.A.: 4-9

vs. Oakland: 10-3

vs. Texas: 8-8

vs. AL East: 22-12

vs. AL Cent.: 20-15

vs. NL: 9-9

vs. LHP: 24-8

vs. RHP: 49-48

Day: 19-17

Night: 54-39

One-run: 21-17

Extra innings: 4-1

Home attendance

Monday’s crowd: 45,998

Season total: 2,218,443

Biggest crowd: 46,377 (Aug. 5)

Smallest crowd: 16,555 (May 2)

Average (66 dates): 33,613

2006 average (66 dates): 31,402

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