ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Look, it’s only two games. Yes, two victories. OK, two record-setting victories.
Still, let’s not get carried away. Even if it is the Mariners we’re talking about after Tuesday’s 8-3 clipping of the Los Angeles Angels.
But consider manager Lloyd McClendon, prior to the game, who mentioned how “you only feel as good as your starter on a daily basis. Tonight I feel pretty good.”
Erasmo Ramirez (1-0) then went out and held the Angels to two runs and six hits in seven innings while striking out six and walking none.
“He pitched his butt off tonight,” first baseman Justin Smoak said. “You put some runs on the board, give them a little cushion, and guys go out there, no matter who it is, and relax and make their pitches.
“That’s what he did tonight.”
And recall how McClendon talked all spring of how Smoak might lead the league in doubles and rack up 100 RBIs?
Well, Smoak had a three-run double that capped a four-run third inning against Angels starter C.J. Wilson (0-1) and provided Ramirez with that cushion. Smoak has six RBIs in two games, and his three-run double came after an intentional walk to Robinson Cano.
“Right now, if you are looking
at their lineup,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “going into it, Robinson Cano is the guy you want to try to minimize as much as you can.
“Give Justin Smoak credit. He got some big hits (Monday) night and got some big hits (Tuesday). If he continues it, Robinson Cano will get some pitches to hit.”
Throw in two homers by Brad Miller and yes, it’s only two games, but it’s two really good games. Never before have the Mariners opened the season by scoring eight or more runs in their first two games.
Tom Wilhelmsen inherited a 6-2 lead from Ramirez to start the eighth, and he couldn’t have started better: He froze Mike Trout on a 1-2 curve.
Then it got messy.
Albert Pujols grounded a double past third, and Josh Hamilton walked. David Freese’s grounder to short resulted in an out at second, but Smoak couldn’t dig the throw from Cano.
The result was a run-scoring throwing error.
Joe Beimel replaced Wilhelmsen for a left-on-left matchup against Raul Ibañez, whose two-run homer in the fourth provided the only runs against Ramirez.
It was Beimel’s first appearance in 951 days, and he never threw a pitch. Instead, he threw to first and picked off Freese.
Then came Miller’s second homer, a two-out dart with Dustin Ackley on third, and it was 8-3.
Closer Fernando Rodney closed out the victory in a nonsave situation.
Ramirez was only in trouble in the fourth, After Hamilton opened the inning with a slicing double to left. Ibañez launched a one-out homer over the center-field wall.
Miller’s error on Howie Kendrick’s routine grounder to short and Hank Conger’s bloop single put runners at first and second. Ramirez avoided further trouble by striking out Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun.
“I didn’t get mad at myself,” Ramirez said. “I just tried to relax myself. I said, ‘OK, those pitches are already gone. I just have to continue throwing the ball and get out of the inning.’”
The Mariners answered immediately when Miller cranked a two-out homer in the fifth. They knocked out Wilson in the sixth when Ackley’s two-out double scored Corey Hart.email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners