SEATTLE -- The Angels came into Seattle and flipped the script on the Mariners, with a 3-0 victory on Sunday sealing a surprising three-game series sweep.
Safeco Field was buzzing with 40,852 fans and hoping that the home team, which held first place in the American League West, would salvage one game from the sub-.500 visitors. But the Angels got a terrific start from left-hander Hector Santiago, who gave up only two hits over eight shutout innings, and continued to peck away at the Mariners on the offensive side of the ball.
Santiago didn't allow a hit until Mariners utility man Shawn O'Malley bunted for a hit to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. By then, the Angels had scratched out a run in the fifth inning off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on a Kole Calhoun RBI single, and the way Santiago was pitching, it turned out to be enough. Santiago finished with five strikeouts, one walk and two hit batters. He threw 115 pitches and gave way to closer Joe Smith, who pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
"That's the way he was throwing the ball earlier in the year," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Santiago. "That's a terrific game."
Hernandez was pretty good, too. He made it into the eighth inning, striking out nine batters, but his 1-0 deficit became 3-0 when he walked Calhoun and allowed a single to Mike Trout, paving the way for Daniel Nava, who singled in the two insurance runs off Mariners reliever Nick Vincent. The loss put the Mariners back into second place in the division behind the Rangers.
"It was a well-pitched game on both sides," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I thought Santiago was very good. Obviously he kept us off balance, and he can do that to you. Felix matched him. He gave up a few more hits, but Felix had very good stuff today and threw the ball very well. We were right there. Tight game, we didn't get much done offensively, but you've got to give Hector Santiago a lot of credit. He threw the ball very well today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Sheer dominance: Santiago saw his velocity drop gradually in each of his last three starts, a stretch in which he gave up 11 runs and struck out only seven batters in 15 1/3 innings. But he ran his fastball consistently in the mid-90s once again Sunday and kept Seattle off the board for eight innings, becoming the first Angels starter to go that deep. Santiago allowed only two hits in a 115-pitch outing. The Mariners sent two balls to the warning track against him in the seventh, but both were caught.
"His fastball was there," Angels catcher Geovany Soto said. "His command was there, too. The changeup was down in the zone all day. Really he was commanding that inside part for righties with the heater, and the changeup was down. He had that nice balance going." More >
O'Malley breaks up no-no: The Mariners didn't make much noise with their bats on Sunday, but O'Malley at least made sure that Seattle wouldn't go down on the wrong side of history. The utility man, in his first game since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, led off the bottom of the sixth inning with his team having been no-hit through five by Santiago. He laid a bunt down the first-base line that Santiago couldn't handle and was ruled a base hit.
Kole and Daniel: Angels manager Mike Scioscia recently flip-flopped Calhoun and Nava in the batting order, with Calhoun batting in front of Trout and Nava situated behind Albert Pujols, and both came through with big two-out, opposite-field hits. Calhoun put the Angels on the board with a shift-beating single against Hernandez in the fifth, his fifth hit in 39 career at-bats against the Mariners' ace. Nava then extended the Angels' lead to three in the eighth with a line drive down the left-field line against Vincent, which scored two.
"I think I'm getting there," said Nava, who has five hits in his last four games. "I'm not feeling exactly how I'd like to feel; I've still got a ways to go. But I'm grateful for at least getting a couple of knocks here and there, especially in situations that can help the team."
"I think it's kind of cool that it takes everyone for us to win the game. We're not relying on one guy. You look through our lineup, and it was everyone contributing today - getting bunts down, moving runners. That's what we need to do." -- Nava, on the Angels coming together
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Santiago's outing marked the first time the Angels had received eight scoreless innings with two hits or fewer from a starting pitcher since Garrett Richards on July 28, 2015, against the Red Sox. Santiago's eight innings equaled a career high, achieved in 2013. He is now 9-2 with a 2.60 ERA in his last 22 starts against American League West opponents.
FLASHING THE LEATHER
Santiago and the Angels' fill-in shortstop, Gregorio Petit, each turned in a couple of nice plays in the series finale. Santiago stabbed at a hard comebacker from Nelson Cruz in the second and made a nice sliding play on a tapper by Ketel Marte in the fourth. Petit ended the fifth with a diving play in the hole, nailing Franklin Gutierrez at first, then made a sliding play on a hard grounder deflected by Santiago to end the seventh, stranding the tying run.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: The Angels begin a four-game series against the crosstown-rival Dodgers on Monday, with two games each at Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium. The series opener from Dodger Stadium begins at 7:10 p.m. PT, with Matt Shoemaker (1-5, 9.12 ERA) facing off against fellow righty Kenta Maeda (3-2, 2.30 ERA). The Dodgers won five of six against the Angels last season.
Mariners: The Mariners get Monday off before traveling to Baltimore for a three-game series against the Orioles in Camden Yards. Left-hander Wade Miley (3-2, 4.91 ERA) will get the start for Seattle, which will face Orioles righty Ubaldo Jimenez (2-3, 4.87 ERA). Miley will be making his fourth career start vs. the Orioles, his first as a Mariner. He's 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA against them in his career.