Hey…about the Mariners…they made it six in a row Monday night with an 8-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels here in suburban Disneyland.
Maybe you’ve forgotten about them because, yes, it’s football season with the Seahawks, Huskies and (sort of) the Cougars. And it was only a week ago the Mariners’ postseason hopes had reached pipe-dream status.
It’s been quite a week, though.
The Mariners are now just 2 1/2 games behind Baltimore in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth. In the last week, they’ve vaulted past Kansas City and Houston in the standings.
"We’re in a position now," center fielder Leonys Martin said, "where we have to play every single game like it’s a playoff game. It’s going to be hard. It’s a big fight between at least five teams."
The Mariners have 18 games remaining in what remains an uphill climb, but the grade isn’t quite as steep. The six straight victories match a season high.
"We have a very confident crew right now," manager Scott Servais said. "They believe they can win every night. Our offense is kind of clicking. We’re putting runs up, and our pitching has done a very good job.
"We feel we’re playing out best ball here when it really matters the most."
On Monday, they got six shutout innings from rookie lefty Ariel Miranda (4-1) before turning to their bullpen for the final nine outs. That didn’t go entirely smooth.
Nick Vincent gave up a run in the seventh before stranding two runners. Vidal Nuno issued a leadoff walk in the eighth, which brought Tom Wilhelmsen into the game to face the lineup’s right-handed core.
When Wilhelmsen ended the inning with no damage, Angels manager Mike Scioscia effectively conceded the game by removing Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun.
The Mariners nicked Los Angeles starter Ricky Nolasco (5-14) for single runs in the second and third innings. The run in third came on Robinson Cano’s 33rd homer, which matched a career high.
Leonys Martin’s third double of the game ignited a four-run seventh inning, which included a two-run single by Nori Aoki.
Martin also had a single in the eighth inning and matched a career high with four hits. Ben Gamel hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning — his first career homer — after entering the game as a defensive replacement.
Miranda carried a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning as he faced his third trip through the Angels’ lineup. Yunel Escobar led off with a line single, but Miranda retired Calhoun, Trout and Albert Pujols on fly balls.
A nice ending for Miranda, who has won his last three starts.
"The last one and today," Cano said, "he started (pitching well) from the first inning. You could see he had that mean face today. He was working. He was a different guy today. He knows what he has to do."
"I did start the game with a mean face," he said, "but I adjusted as the game went along. That was mostly because I didn’t have a good bullpen (before the game). I didn’t think I was going to have a good outing today."
After Martin started the seventh inning with a double, Nolasco nicked Mike Zunino with a pitch, which prompted a pitching change to Deolis Guerra.
Ketel Marte tried for a sacrifice, but the bunt was so good that he wound up with a single that loaded the bases. Aoki followed by rolling an 0-2 fastball up the middle through a shortened infield for a two-run single.
Guerra then flinched prior to a 1-2 pitch to Seth Smith. A balk. Marte scored, Aoki to second. A 5-0 lead.
Aoki moved to third on Smith’s grounder to first and scored when shortstop Cliff Pennington, after fielding Cano’s grounder, threw wildly to the plate. It was 6-0.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Angels had runners at first and third with two outs in the third inning when Mike Trout hit a sharp grounder to short. Ketel Marte flipped the ball to Robinson Cano for a force at second.
Inning over. Cano then threw to first, which surprised first baseman Dae-Ho Lee, who made the catch, and just about everyone else. Cano and Marte were laughing as they left the field.
"I thought it was one out," Cano admitted. "I’m not going to lie. I wouldn’t mess with (Lee) like that. But it’s better to get four than miss one."
PLUS: Leonys Martin had doubles in each of his first three at-bats — first to left field, then to center field and then to right field. The three doubles tied a franchise single-game record…Robinson Cano went 3-for-5 after entering the game in a 1-for-16 skid…
MINUS: Dan Vogelbach made his major-league debut as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and grounded into a force at second. That’s not the minus. Vogelbach missed second base while going to third on Kyle Seager’s single. That turned into a force-out and took a single away from Seager….First baseman Dae-Ho Lee was hitless in five at-bats. It could be a while before he gets another start against a right-handed pitcher.
STAT PACK: Robinson Cano’s 33rd homer, a one-out drive to right in the third inning, matched a career high set in 2012 while playing for the New York Yankees. "It means something that I tied my career (high)," he said, "but it means more that we won the game. You’re able to celebrate."
QUOTABLE: First-base coach Casey Candaele to rookie Dan Vogelbach afterward in the happy clubhouse: "Hey, need a base?"
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners, at 76-68, have matched last year’s victory total, when they finished 76-86…the Mariners are 14-5 this season in California: 8-1 at Oakland, 5-3 at Anaheim (with two to play) and 1-1 at San Diego…Robinson Cano’s homer was his 11th of the season (of 33) on a first-pitch swing…the Mariners took a 9-8 lead in the season series against the Angels.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners