Seattle got a solid start from Ariel Miranda and broke open a close game in the seventh inning to roll to an easy 8-1 win.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The gains are incremental, agonizing and reliant on other teams’ failures and successes in games around the country. To sit and analyze the American League wild-card race and it’s various iterations would only be distracting for manager Scott Servais and his team.
Realistically, the Mariners are doing the best thing they can do — win games against teams they should beat.
That continued Monday night at Angels Stadium. Seattle got a solid start from Ariel Miranda and broke open a close game in the seventh inning to roll to an easy 8-1 win.
With the victory, Seattle improved to 76-68. And it allowed the Mariners to move up a game in the wild-card standings to 2½ games out of the second wild-card spot.
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“We have to play every single game like a playoff game,” said Leonys Martin, who tied a career high with four hits, including three doubles. “This month is going to be hard. We are fighting with five teams. But we are playing the game the right way, fighting every pitch.”
It was the Mariners’ sixth straight win. At the start of the winning streak, they were six games back in the wild-card standings and season-ending obituaries were being planned.
But Servais said a week ago he believed his team had another run in it. This would be that run.
“We have a very confident crew right now,” Servais said. “They believe we can win every night. Our offense is kind of clicking. We are putting runs up and our pitching is doing a good job. What we are asking from our starting pitchers is ‘just keep us in the game.’ We think we are kind of playing our best ball here when it really matters the most. Hopefully it can continue.”
How long can it continue? Well, getting quality starts from back-of-rotation starters like Miranda will help.
The spindly lefty gave the Mariners his best start since being acquired at the trade deadline. Miranda worked six shutout innings, allowing just three hits with a walk and three strikeouts to improve to 4-1 and lower his earned-run average to 4.10.
“Awesome,” Servais said. “Really outstanding outing. Really commanded the fastball and was very aggressive with it. They’ve got some good right-handed hitters over there. That’s not an easy lineup to get through.”
Miranda worked out of minor jams in the first, third and sixth innings, showing composure and confidence in the slider he’s been working on with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.
“I didn’t have a good bullpen and I didn’t feel like I was going to have a good outing today,” Miranda said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. “I just focused on being aggressive.”
Leading 2-0, Seattle broke open the game in the seventh inning against Angels starter Ricky Nolasco and reliever Deolis Guerra. Mariner had a leadoff double and Nolasco hit Mike Zunino with a pitch to end his outing.
The Angels brought in Guerra to face Ketel Marte. With the infield expecting a bunt, Marte still put down a perfect one near the third-base line that went for an infield single instead of a sacrifice.
With bases loaded and no outs Norichika Aoki poked a single up the middle to score two runs.
“Aoki has been on fire,” Servais said.
Guerra then balked in a runner from third and another scored later on a throwing error at the plate to make it 6-0.
Ben Gamel belted his first big-league homer, a two-run shot in the eighth.
Robinson Cano continued his brilliant bounce-back season, belting a towering moon shot of a solo homer in the third inning to make it 2-0. That tied a career high in homers for a season for Cano. He hit 33 homers back in 2012.
“It means more that we won the game,” he said. “You are able to celebrate.”