The perfect road trip and an eight-game winning streak pushed Seattle’s record to 78-68 and moved them to 1½ games out of the American League wild-card standings.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Mariners couldn’t do anything more on this road trip. All that they needed to do was completed without slip-up or defeat, and in mostly an impressive fashion.
With their 2-1 victory Wednesday night, they swept the six-game trip that started in Oakland and ended in Anaheim. Sure, both opponents are playing out the string of dismal seasons, but to win every game still was an unexpected accomplishment.
“We were just focusing on the one game,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “When we got on the plane and we were thinking — just keep winning series and winning series. Then you win the first couple of games and you think, ‘Why not sweep it?’ That’s been our attitude. Everybody’s doing their part.”
Houston @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
A solid pitching performance by Hisashi Iwakuma and the bullpen and homers from Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz wrapped up the three-game sweep of the Angels.
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The perfect road trip along with two victories at home before it started gives Seattle an eight-game winning streak that pushed the team’s record to 78-68. The Mariners moved to 1½ games back in the American League wild-card standings.
“Outstanding trip,” Servais said. “Guys are really confident. The energy is up. It should be a really fun homestand coming up.”
With no game Thursday, the Mariners open their biggest homestand of the season Friday night at Safeco Field, starting with a three-game series against the Houston Astros — a team they are vying with for one of the two coveted wild-card spots.
Iwakuma continued the run of solid starting pitching for Seattle despite being out of rhythm much of the night. Iwakuma tossed 61/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts to improve to 16-11. The only run allowed came in an interminable third inning.
A leadoff single from Juan Graterol and a successful hit-and-run play with Gregorio Petit put runners on the corners with no outs. Iwakuma then slowed the game down, working at a snail’s pace in between pitches.
“He’s very good at getting methodical and slowing the game down,” Servais said. “It’s almost to the point that it drives you crazy. But that’s what he does. The inning could have gotten away from him, but it didn’t.”
He struck out Yunel Escobar, but allowed Graterol to score on a wild pitch while facing Kole Calhoun. He limited the damage to one run, pitching around Mike Trout and getting Albert Pujols to fly out to end the inning.
“Whatever works, works,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “You always want to pick on their brain and make them think more than you are. Knowing that, you want to make your own pitches. And it worked out well today.”
Iwakuma exited the game with one out in the seventh inning, a runner on second and the Mariners leading 2-1.
Tom Wilhelmsen came in and kept the runner from scoring, getting a ground out from Petit and fly out from Escobar to end the threat.
Seattle starters on this road trip went 6-0 with a 1.41 ERA in 50 total innings and giving up just eight runs.
“It’s certainly happening at the right time,” Servais said.
The bullpen still had to cover two innings with no-room-for-mistake pitches. Steve Cishek navigated the toughest part of the Angels’ lineup in the eighth, retiring Calhoun, Trout and Pujols in order.
Rookie Edwin Diaz worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to notch his 16th save of the season.
The Mariners didn’t muster much early against Jhoulys Chacin. The veteran right-hander was a late replacement when lefty Tyler Skaggs was scratched with forearm stiffness. Chacin allowed one hit — a Leonys Martin single — over the first four innings.
But Seattle tied the score on the first pitch of the fifth inning. Seager ambushed a first-pitch fastball from Chacin, unleashing a deep homer into the right-field seats to make it 1-1. It was Seager’s 29th homer of the season.
“Not much was happening for us offensively, so I was just trying to be aggressive and make something happen,” Seager said. “Thankfully it worked.”
It was the only run Chacin allowed in six innings of work.
The Mariners took advantage of his replacement, Jose Valdez. Against the first and only batter he faced — Cruz — Valdez made the mistake of leaving a 1-0 slider over the inside half of the plate. Cruz turned on it, sending a line drive into the left-field seats for a 2-1 lead and his 37th homer of the season.
“I saw fastball in my first at-bat and breaking balls after that,” Cruz said. “I was looking for something soft.”
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