Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners 3, Angels 2: Wilhelmsen retires Trout with game on the line

Felix Hernandez gave up another homer to Mike Trout but limited the Angels to two runs in 6 2/3 innings. It was Trout’s seventh career homer against Hernandez.
Felix Hernandez gave up another homer to Mike Trout but limited the Angels to two runs in 6 2/3 innings. It was Trout’s seventh career homer against Hernandez. AP

Sometimes, it’s best to just count your blessings and move on.

The Mariners put themselves in a position Monday night where Mike Trout could beat them. He didn’t. The Mariners escaped with a loud out and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

Yep, just move on.

The Mariners won for the 11th time in 13 games when rookie closer Edwin Diaz closed out the victory — without having to face Trout in the ninth inning. The Angels have lost 11 in a row.

"Well take it," manager Scott Servais said. "When you’re on a streak, stuff like that happens."

It happens both ways.

Let’s reset.

Felix Hernandez gave up a moon shot to Trout in the fifth inning, which tightened the Mariners’ lead to 3-2, so Servais went to the bullpen when Trout came up with two on and two out in the seventh.

Tom Wilhelmsen inherited a first-and-second threat, but his 2-2 pitch got past catcher Mike Zunino for a passed ball. Trout then sent left fielder Nori Aoki to the track for the third out.

"I said, `No way,’" Aoki said. "The ball travels well here, and I thought it was going to float into the stands. I mean I thought I could catch it, but it was in the back of my head that, with Trout, it might float into the stands."

It was a curveball that Trout just missed.

"It’s not really a great pitch for him," Wilhelmsen admitted, "but it was the only one I seemed to be able to control today. I’m lucky he didn’t hit the weight room today. That’s right in his swing path. We’ve seen that for years."

Wilhelmsen then worked a one-two-three eighth inning, which got the game to Diaz, who is now perfect in seven save opportunities. Hernandez (7-4) got the victory — No. 150 in his career.

"I need 150 more," he smiled, "to get to 300."

The Angels scored first when Nic Buss picked up his first career RBI on a slicing two-out drive to left that Aoki couldn’t reach. The ball bounced into the stands for a double.

That lead lasted until the Mariners answered with two runs in the fourth.

Credit LA starter Ricky Nolasco (4-10) with an assist after he began the inning by walking Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager before Adam Lind and Mike Zunino delivered RBI singles.

The chance for a bigger inning slipped away when Nolasco retired the next three hitters, but Cruz pushed the lead to 3-1 with a two-out homer in the fifth inning.

Cruz’s 425-foot blast to left-center field was his 30th homer of the season.

Hernandez had struck out six in a row before yielding Trout’s booming 446-foot homer straightaway center with two outs in the fifth inning.

"I’m trying to strike Trout out, too," Hernandez said. "I left that pitch right there, and he hit it out of the ballpark. He’s my nightmare. He’s got my number."

It was Trout’s third homer of the year against Hernandez and his seventh in 78 career at-bats.

Seager lost a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh inning against Angels reliever Mike Morin when right fielder Kole Calhoun pulled the ball back with a leaping catch at the low wall.

"That’s one of the few times, as a hitter, you wish you were in Seattle," Seager said. "That part of the park is larger than Seattle."

Instead of a 5-2 lead, the Mariners’ margin remained one run — which soon looked shaky when the Angels mounted their threat later in the inning.

Hernandez retired the first two hitters in the first inning before, effectively, pitching around Trout by walking him on four pitches. Hernandez then walked Albert Pujols after jumping ahead 1-2 in the count.

But Hernandez escaped by hitting the outside black for a called strike on a full-count pitch to Andrelton Simmons.

The Mariners loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning on singles by Lind and Zunino before Martin drew a four-pitch walk, but Nolasco stranded all three runners when Ketel Marte flied out to right.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Another day, another athletic play by first baseman Adam Lind. This time, he barehanded Ji-Man Choi’s bad-hop grounder and turned it into the second out in the sixth inning.

The ball took an unexpectedly high hop, but Lind adjusted by jumping to grab it — and then he just beat Choi to the base.

On Saturday in Oakland, Lind ran down a foul pop near the wall for the first out in the ninth inning in helping Edwin Diaz close out a 4-3 victory.

PLUS: Nelson Cruz is the sixth player in Mariners history with multiple 30-homer seasons. The others are Ken Griffey Jr. (six times), Alex Rodriguez (four), Jay Buhner (three), Richie Sexson (two) and Bret Boone (two)…Cruz’s 74 homers are also the most by any player in his first two seasons with the Mariners. Sexson had 73 in 2005-06.

MINUS: Mike Trout’s seven homers against Felix Hernandez are the most allowed by the King to any hitter. It is also the most by Trout against any pitcher…shortstop Ketel Marte was hitless in four at-bats and is now 2-for-19 in five games since returning from mononucleosis.

STAT PACK: When Felix Hernandez struck out the side in the fourth inning, it pushed his career total against the Angels to 325 — the most by any pitcher in history against the Angels. Roger Clemens had 324 in a 24-year career from 1984-2007. Bert Blyleven (1970-92) ranks third at 315.

QUOTABLE: Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen got the swelmet, the club’s unofficial recognition of the player of the game in victories. He did retire all four batters he faced, including Mike Trout with the game on the line, but Wilhelmsen seemed bemused by the honor.

"I fell behind everybody," he said, "and I get the swelmet on Felix’s 150th win, and Nelson Cruz dropping moon-landing shots."

SHORT HOPS: Tom Wilhelmsen has stranded 15 of 16 inherited runners since returning June 23 to the Mariners…Mike Trout’s stolen base in the third inning was his 20th of the season and gave him three seasons with at least 20 homers and 20 steals.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners