Angels star Mike Trout hit two homers for the second straight game, but Mitch Haniger and Ryon Healy matched him as the Mariners doubled up Los Angeles to clinch a series win.
The first fan-voting numbers for the American League All-Star team were released on Tuesday morning.
And not surprisingly, Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura weren’t among the leaders at their positions. Nope, the quiet, unassuming and highly productive Haniger sat 13th in the outfield popularity contest, while Segura, ostensibly the team’s most valuable player this season, wasn’t in the top five of what is a loaded shortstop position.
But later that evening, facing the Angels in a key American League West showdown, both players provided further evidence as to why they belong on the All-Star team despite the fans’ indifference to their performance, leading the Mariners to a big 6-3 victory.
LA Angels @ Mariners, 1:10 p.m., Facebook
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With the win, Seattle improved to 43-24 and secured a series win over the Angels. The Mariners will go for a three-game sweep Wednesday afternoon. Their lead over the Astros in the AL West standings remained at just half a game, but their lead over the Angels improved to 6½ games.
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“It was nice to get the series win, and hopefully we can finish them off tomorrow,” manager Scott Servais said.
It wasn’t just a two-man show Tuesday night. Ryon Healy crushed a pair of solo homers, giving him three in the last two games, and Mike Leake (7-3) delivered another solid start.
More importantly, the Mariners kept the one-man wrecking crew that is Mike Trout from spoiling the win. Like he has done for much of his career, Trout tormented the Mariners and their pitchers, hitting a pair of homers to go with a single and driving in all of the Angels’ runs. He is batting .636 (14 for 22) with three doubles, a triple, five home runs and eight RBI against Seattle this season.
“That’s a good club over there and they have a pretty good player on their team too,” Servais said. “And we saw it again tonight. Mr. Trout is really tough to pitch to. Some of the pitches he hit out tonight were kind of where we wanted to throw them, and he still does damage.”
Trout didn’t get a chance to tie the score in the ninth. Seattle closer Edwin Diaz, who will almost certainly be selected for the All-Star Game, made sure he didn’t allow either of the first two batters to reach base with Trout batting third in the inning. With two outs, Diaz struck out Trout swinging to end the game for his 25th save — the most in the majors.
It’s difficult to imagine where the Mariners would be without Haniger or Segura in the lineup this season. It seems obvious that they probably wouldn’t be sitting in first place in the division and 19 games over .500.
Haniger displayed his versatility and potential as a hitter with the two homers, driving in three runs.
“Obviously, Mitch Haniger, what a game,” Servais said. “Wow.”
With two outs in the first inning, Haniger stayed on a 3-1 fastball away from Angels starter Jaime Barria, driving it over the wall in right field for a solo homer and a 1-0 lead. The ball traveled 375 feet per MLB Statcast, which is an impressive distance going to the opposite field.
“I was trying to stay middle of the field,” Haniger said. “We didn’t have a ton on the scouting report or video with (Barria). But what we were looking was that he didn’t like to come inside often, so you have to set your sights on right-center because he’s going to play that fastball off the outside corner.”
With the score tied at 1-1 in the fifth inning, Haniger sat on a 1-1 changeup from Barria on the inside part of the plate, yanking a two-run homer into the Angels bullpen to put the Mariners up for good. It was the second multihomer game of his career.
But Haniger’s best play of the night came in the top of the sixth, with the adrenaline of the second homer still pumping through his body.
Luis Valbuena, a man of many bat flips, pulled a line drive into the right-field corner. It seemed like a sure double, until it wasn’t. Haniger hustled to the ball and unleashed a laser of throw to second base.
“Luckily I got a really good bounce off the wall,” Haniger said. “It bounced right up to me. I definitely need to get the ball lower.”
Segura, who was covering, caught the ball on the opposite side of the base from the sliding Valbuena. Not having enough time to fully turn and tag Valbuena, Segura improvised, reached back and tagged him as he was falling backward.
“Great tag by Segura,” Servais said. “Typical Segura.”
It was an absurd throw and tag for the out.
“Unbelievable, if he goes down traditionally, we don’t get that,” Haniger said. “Props to Jean for that.”