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.
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They 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.
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-drive single, but Miranda retired Calhoun, Trout and Albert Pujols on fly balls.
A nice ending for Miranda, who has won his last three starts.
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.
Miranda faced some early trouble when two one-out squibbers put him in a first-inning jam.
Cano skipped a throw through first baseman Dae-Ho Lee after fielding Calhoun’s slow grounder. That was scored a single. Marte then made a wild flip to Cano at second on a fielder’s choice after fielding Trout’s soft hopper.
Marte received an error, but none of it mattered when Miranda got Pujols to ground into a double play.
The Mariners broke through in the second inning after Martin’s one-out slicing double to left. He went to third on a wild pitch and scored when Zunino punched a 2-2 slider into right field.
Cano’s one-out homer in the third inning, just beyond Calhoun’s reach at the right-field wall, extended the lead to 2-0. It was Cano’s 33rd homer, which matched a career high.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Angels had runners at first and third with two outs in the third inning when Trout hit a sharp grounder to short. Marte flipped the ball to Cano for a force at second.
Inning over. Cano then threw to first, which surprised Lee (who made the catch) and just about everyone else. Cano and Marte were laughing as they left the field.
PLUS: 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.
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.
STAT PACK: 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.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners
AL Wild Card