Saturday, September 13, 2008
Napoli (Nearly) Does It All: Angels 5, Mariners 3
- Ichiro reached on an infield single and was still at first when Raul Ibanez belted a ball to deep right over the scoreboard. Vlad hesitated after realizing he couldn't make a catch and then misjudged the carom. Gary Matthews, Jr. flew in to assist, recovered the ball, and made a good throw to Sean Rodriguez at second, who relayed to Mike Napoli catching to tag out the speedy Ichiro on the play.
- The Mariners repaid the Angels in kind when Gary Matthews, Jr. hit a leadoff hustle double in the first, and advanced on Garret Anderson's 4-3 groundout to reach third. Mark Teixeira then hit a flyball out to medium deep left down the third base line, but Ibanez hurled a rocket to the plate to tag out Matthews, ending the inning. Matthews was out by a good twenty feet, not a good situation.
Joe Saunders wasn't sharp but he was effective, squeaking out a by-the-numbers quality start. He gave up a couple runs in the fifth in a two-out rally where he just could not contain the two through four hitters, all of which singled against him. He also hit a batter, the rather beat-up Kenji Johjima in the sixth; Johjima took a foul ball to his knee during the game that left him staggered for a while.
The Angels' offense didn't do a whole lot against converted reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith, but they managed to tie the game in the seventh on Juan Rivera's leadoff double and Mike Napoli's sac fly, leaving him with a no-decision. Mike Scioscia was more impressed with that sac fly than Napoli's subsequent home run:
Napoli's sacrifice fly on an 0-2 count from Roy Corcoran in the seventh inning is what impressed Scioscia the most. The fly ball hit to center field was just deep enough to score Juan Rivera from third base and tied the game at 3.The Mariners have a couple conversion projects on their roster this year, Rowland-Smith being one of them, and Brandon Morrow the other. They'll likely both feature prominently in the 2009 team.
"I really liked the sacrifice fly," Scioscia said. "It was a tough pitch and a contact situation so you really have to put that ball in play. He really shortened his swing and got the ball into center field."