Saunders, Guerrero lead way as Angels maul Mariners 10-0
Joe Saunders and Vladimir Guerrero are good players.
That’s not the question.
The question is: Are they as good as the Mariners make them look?
Saunders, a 17-game winner last year for the Angels, won his 11th
game by allowing three hits and no runs in a 10-0 win Monday over the Mariners at Safeco Field. The left-hander is 3-0 against Seattle this season, having allowed one earned run in 21 innings.
He’s 7-1 lifetime against the Mariners and 5-0 at Safeco Field.
Guerrero, meanwhile, hit two two-run homers and scored three runs as he continues to decimate Seattle pitching. The Angel designated hitter is just that against Seattle – he has a career .358 average against the Mariners with 28 homers and 84 RBIs. And of his 13 homers this season, six have come off Seattle pitching.
“I don’t know what it is, but I love coming up here and pitching in this park,” Saunders said. “Maybe it’s getting away from the heat down south. Maybe it’s the coffee.”
Whatever it is, it works for Saunders.
He loaded the bases in the first inning and was vulnerable for perhaps the first time all season against Seattle. But first baseman Jack Hannahan, batting with a 1-0 count, grounded out to second. By the time the Mariners next got a runner into scoring position, they’d be down 7-0.
“In the first inning, getting the bases loaded and not being able to capitalize really hurt,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. “With the pitch count up, offensively we were headed in the right direction, and we didn’t take the opportunity to score there. Getting on the board first is critical and getting his pitch count up.
“Saunders won 17 games last year and even at a young age is a veteran pitcher. If you can’t capitalize at that point and let him back, he gains momentum. Then their offense took over.”
That it did. Guerrero hit a long homer to left-center with a man on as the centerpiece of a four-run third inning against starter Luke French. After left fielder Juan Rivera hit a three-run bomb in the fifth, Guerrero added a two-run second-deck homer off reliever Chris Jakubauskas in the seventh when the Angels scored their final three runs.
“When you take a young pitcher like Luke French and face a team like Anaheim, which has a strong resume and record, you have to attack,” Wakamatsu said. “I thought the first inning he attacked the strike zone and had more life on his fastball. But once he gave up a couple of hits, I thought he got tentative.
“The same thing with Jakubauskas. He came in and threw great, then the next inning he walked the first guy and then telegraphed a curveball (the ball Guerrero hit into the second deck in left field). In order to beat a team like this, you have to be able to go aggressive. I didn’t think we did that tonight.”
The Mariners have never found a way to solve Guerrero consistently, and based on Monday night, the search goes on.
“Guerrero is an imposing hitter,” Wakamatsu said. “But that’s one hitter in the lineup. Letting guys get on base before the power is always going to kill you. With young pitchers, you see those things. Those are learning experiences that they’re going to have to make adjustments on, and they will.”