ANAHEIM, Calif. — Instead of forcing the Angels into another ninth-inning implosion of missed opportunities and mistakes, this time the Mariners turned the ninth inning into an explosion of their own hits and runs.
And as the Angels fans, at least the ones that decided to stay after Seattle racked up five runs in the top of the ninth inning, vented their anger at the opposing players and their frustrations with their own hapless team, the Mariners basked in their best offensive showing of the road trip and an eventual 8-2 drubbing of their American League West rivals.
Adam Frazier’s two-run triple and Julio Rodriguez’s line drive of a two-run homer to right field off veteran reliever Jesse Chavez highlighted a top of the ninth inning that turned a one-run game into a rout.
With the victory, the Mariners guaranteed a series win and will go for a three-game sweep of the Angels on Wednesday afternoon with George Kirby getting the start.
“It’s a nice win and it’s good to win the series. That’s what we came in here to do,” manager Scott Servais said. “Now let’s get a little bit more tomorrow and get greedy and see if we can sweep it.”
Seattle returned to 10 games over .500 at 64-54 and lead the first American League wild-card spot by a half-game over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Angels fell to 51-65. On June 19, the Mariners fell to 29-39 after losing four of five games to the Angels in a weekend series at T-Mobile Park. They have gone 35-15 over that stretch. Conversely, the Angels are 18-29 over that span.
“We weren’t in really good place after the first 2 1/2 months,” Frazier said. “It was like, ‘If we are going to do this, we better tighten it up.'”
The eight runs is the most the Mariners have scored since their July 4 victory over the Padres, which was also 8-2. Since getting Mitch Haniger back from a lengthy injured list stint and also Dylan Moore back to bolster the bench, the deeper Mariners hadn’t really offered an extended glimpse of offensive prowess.
It certainly wasn’t apparent the first five innings Wednesday night, when getting a runner on base let alone scoring a run was difficult.
For the those first five innings, Angels starter Jose Suarez was perfect. Using a deft mix of all his pitches, the stocky left-hander, who came into the game having worked 17 consecutive scoreless innings, retired the first 15 Mariners he faced. The Mariners didn’t have much in the way of hard-hit balls in that stretch.
But after Suarez retired Curt Casali on a pop-up in the sixth inning, Frazier ended his hopes of history with an infield single deep in the hole to shortstop.
With that first hit on the board, the Mariners added three more in a row. Sam Haggerty slashed a line drive into left field and Rodriguez, who was hitless in his previous 16 at-bats, dumped a single into left-center to load the bases.
The fourth consecutive single of the inning belonged to Ty France, who was 1 for 19 on the road trip. France laced a 3-2 fastball from Suarez past first baseman Jared Walsh for a single that scored a pair of runs to tie the game. Jesse Winker followed with a fly ball to right field that was deep enough to allow Rodriguez to tag up and race home for the go-ahead run.
“Bases loaded, I knew he didn’t want to walk me right there,” France said. “Going back and looking at it [on video], it was a good pitch. It was up and away and I just put a good swing on it.”
Seattle got a quality start from lefty Robbie Ray, who wasn’t always efficient in his six innings of work, allowing two runs on six hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts to improve to 9-8. He allowed a solo home run to Luis Rengifo in the first inning.
The third inning seemed like it might be one of those big innings that plagued Ray early in the season. He’d allowed back-to-back singles with one out to David Fletcher and Shohei Ohtani. Rengifo made it three in a row, ambushing the first pitch for an RBI single to left.
A walk to Taylor Ward loaded the bases and had pitching coach Pete Woodworth out of the dugout for a mound visit with Ray.
But Ray used his mentality of “Telling yourself to get nasty” in those situations. He got Max Stassi to ground into an inning-ending double play. The Angels wouldn’t score again the rest of the night.
“I think it’s just better focus from the start of the game,” Ray said. “It’s all mental. It’s making the mental adjustments to understand that in situations where things started going a little haywire, it’s knowing you’re just one pitch away from get out of an inning.”
Given a lead in the bottom of the sixth, Ray worked around a leadoff single from Taylor Ward and an error from Winker that allowed him to advance to second on the play. He came back to strike out Max Stassi and Jared Walsh and end his outing on a weak ground out to short from Magnerius Sierra.
“Once the runner got on, I gave it everything I had and just emptied the tank,” Ray said.
Andres Munoz followed with a scoreless seventh inning, striking out Rengifo swinging after walking Fletcher and giving up a single to Ohtani with two outs.
Matt Festa worked an easy 1-2-3 eighth to keep the lead at one-run.
With a one-run lead, Servais had Paul Sewald up in the bullpen for the save situation. But with the five runs, Sewald sat down and Erik Swanson worked the ninth without incident.