David Fletcher doesn’t have the power many of his Los Angeles Angels teammates have. He rarely hits the ball on the barrel and his exit velocities are below average.
But what the 5-foot-9 second baseman does is get hits.
Fletcher extended his hitting streak to 24 games — the longest active streak in the major leagues — and drove in the Angels’ first four runs in their 7-1 victory over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Park.
Fletcher had four hits, including a homer that tied the score, a two-run single that was the game-winning hit and a run-scoring single that gave the Angels some insurance.
“David Fletcher has been a thorn in a lot of teams’ sides and certainly ours,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “He has those streaks when he gets going where he can get his bat on any pitch no matter where it’s at in the zone. He basically did the damage against us today. The home run early, the clutch (two-run) single later. He was nonstop today.”
The Mariners had their three-game winning streak snapped but they won the three-game series and go into the All-Star break with a 48-43 record.
It was a bullpen start for the Mariners and it went well for four innings. But Yohan Ramirez, the third of seven Mariners pitchers, got into trouble with his wildness. He hit Taylor Ward to lead off the inning, then walked Juan Lagares.
The runners advanced to second and third base on a sacrifice bunt, bringing up Fletcher with one out.
Fletcher, who homered in his previous at-bat, pushed a grounder through the hole between first and second base, scoring a pair of runs and giving the Angels a 3-1 lead.
The Mariners had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a Ty France sacrifice fly, but Mitch Haniger was stranded at third base after getting there with one out.
Hector Santiago needed just 27 pitches to get through the first three innings, and he almost made it through them without allowing a run. But with two outs in the third, Fletcher’s line drive just cleared the fence in left field.
It was Fletcher’s second homer of the season and just the 12th in his four-season career.
“I thought Hector threw the ball really well; he always does,” Servais said.
Santiago walked Jared Walsh leading off the fourth, ending his outing. But Walsh never advanced with JT Chargois retiring three consecutive Angels.
Ramirez was tasked with continuing the string of good outings, but then he ran into Fletcher, who gave the Angels a two-run lead with his single to right.
Meanwhile, the Mariners offense was struggling. Jose Suarez, making his second start of the season, allowed one run in five innings for the Angels.
Three relievers did the rest, and some of the pressure was lifted in the seventh when the Angels added to their lead on Fletcher’s soft single to right field that scored Lagares.
The Angels broke the game open in the ninth. Fletcher led off with his fourth hit of the game, then later scored the first of three Los Angeles runs in the inning off Rafael Montero.
“Not our day, obviously,” Servais said. “We didn’t get much going offensively. I thought Suarez did a good job. I thought we had a chance to put up a bigger number in the first inning, but he kept us off balance.”
Fletcher was 8 for 14 in the series, and has a hit in all 10 games against Seattle this season (17 for 39, .436). The four RBI were a season-high for Fletcher and it is only the second time in his career he has had more than three in a game.
It wasn’t the way the Mariners wanted to end the unofficial first half of the season, but their body of work has surpassed most expectations.
“I don’t want (the defeat Sunday) to overshadow a lot of really positive things we have done here over the first few months of the season,” Servais said. “We put ourselves in position to play in some really meaningful games (in the second half). … I can’t say enough about this group and how they bring the energy every day.”