SEATTLE (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels are not in a position to be picky about the ways they pulled off an unlikely three-game sweep.
Whether it’s putting together a ninth-inning rally or getting a dominant pitching performance like they did from Hector Santiago on Sunday, the Angels will take wins however they come after a turbulent first six weeks of the season.
Santiago pitched eight innings of two-hit ball and Daniel Nava’s two-run, two-out single in the eighth inning gave the Angels the cushion they needed to beat the Seattle Mariners 3-0 to complete a three-game sweep.
The Angels were reeling when they arrived in Seattle, having lost six straight. They didn’t even get into Seattle until after 4 a.m. on Friday morning after playing a nearly four-hour game the night before. But when the expectation was for the losing to continue, the Angels showed some resolve by rallying late to win the first two games of the series and completing the sweep behind Santiago’s dominance.
“We didn’t play a perfect series, obviously, but we got enough things done and were fortunate enough to hold some leads,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
The left-hander outpitched Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, allowing just two hits overall and the first not coming until the sixth inning when Shawn O’Malley led off with a bunt single that Santiago mishandled on the transfer. Chris Iannetta had Seattle’s only other hit with a line drive single in the seventh.
Santiago (3-2) struck out five, allowed only one base runner to reach second base and matched a career high in innings pitched in one of the more complete performances of his career. He said the thought of a no-hitter didn’t enter his mind until after Seattle’s first hit.
Joe Smith pitched the ninth for his fourth save of the season.
“I feel like if I’m in that situation then I’m pitching good and getting zeros,” Santiago said. “If they get 10 hits and I put up six or seven zeros I’m happy just the same.”
Santiago was helped by some nifty defensive plays by Gregorio Petit, Yunel Escobar and C.J. Cron to help take away potential hits. O’Malley led off the sixth with a bunt up the first base line that Santiago mishandled and was ruled a hit. Iannetta put an end to the debate about the ruling on the bunt hit with a solid single with two outs in the seventh inning, but that was it for offense against the left-hander.
Santiago said even if he hadn’t given up the hit to Iannetta he would not have challenged the official scorer’s ruling of a hit on O’Malley’s bunt.
“I should have made the play. I’m more mad at myself I didn’t make the play,” Santiago said.
Even with Santiago’s dominance, the Angels didn’t have a cushion until Nava came through in the eighth inning. A walk to Kole Calhoun and base hit by Mike Trout ended Hernandez’s day. Reliever Nick Vincent got Albert Pujols to ground out for the second out, but Nava guided a hard grounder into left field to score the pair and give the Angels a three-run lead.
Calhoun also had an RBI single in the fifth inning behind Seattle’s defensive shift to score Johnny Giavotella after he led off with a double.
Hernandez (3-3) was shaky early, dominant in the middle and managed his pitch count in the later innings. Hernandez had left runners in scoring position in the first two innings before starting on a dominant strikeout streak in the third inning. Hernandez recorded eight straight outs via strikeout. Hernandez finished with nine strikeouts but was responsible for all three runs.
“It was the best game I’ve thrown the whole year. I just got to continue doing that and I’ll be fine,” Hernandez said.
Angels: LHP C.J. Wilson is expected to throw a simulated game on Monday at Dodger Stadium and could be headed for a rehab assignment in the minors if there are no setbacks.
Mariners: RHP Joaquin Benoit (shoulder) will go with Seattle on its road trip but there is no set date on when he will be activated from the DL. Benoit hasn’t pitched since April 22.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker (1-5) gets the start Monday night in the first game of the Freeway Series against the Dodgers.
Mariners: Seattle is off on Monday before opening a six-game road trip on Tuesday in Baltimore.