Big bats lead Mariners in rout of Angels
Beltre, Sexson combine for three homers, six RBIs in opener
ANAHEIM -- It's one thing to beat up on pitchers from last-place teams.But what the Mariners' hitters did on Monday night against the division-leading Angels, who have one of the American League's best pitching staffs, was most impressive. With third baseman Adrian Beltre hitting his 199th and 200th career home runs, first baseman Richie Sexson going 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to .199, and Ichiro Suzuki extending his hitting streak to 21 games, the Mariners took the Angels to the woodshed with a 12-5 victory in front of 42,352 at Angel Stadium. The Memorial Day hit parade enabled the Mariners to end a seven-game losing streak in Anaheim and close to 3 1/2 games in the American League West, the closest Seattle (25-22) has been since May 17. "When you are trying to establish yourself as a team that is serious about winning, I think every series you go into -- especially playing the team in the same division that's ahead of you -- is always a big series," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "We're playing the Angels, and they're in front of us. They have a good team and if we want to win the division, we have to beat the Angels." And by beating the Angels in the series opener, the Mariners extended their winning streak to a season-best four and snapped the Angels' winning streak at three. Thanks to an 11-game offensive onslaught that had produced a .324 team batting average, the Mariners came to town prepared to show the world that they can hit against just about anyone. There were some doubters, no doubt, because six of those high-scoring games came against the last-place Devil Rays and Royals. "For the people who don't want to believe, they are going to find reasons not to believe," Hargrove said. "I don't have the patience or the time to worry about that. We feel like we have a pretty good ballclub and eventually people will come to that conclusion, and that will be good. "We can't do anything about the doubters, except go out and do our jobs." And that's what the hitters did Monday night against the Angels, who entered the series having surrendered three or fewer earned runs in 25 of their last 32 games, and their 3.66 team ERA ranked second in the AL. The Mariners ignored those numbers, and sent a little message along with it. "We want them to know that we are here," Sexson said. "They had a four- or five-game lead in the division, and we need to come in here, play well and let them know we're not going anywhere. The main thing is to let them know we're here." Beltre agreed. "Any time you face any team in your division, you want to beat them," he said. "Those guys are playing very good over there, and the last time we were here, it didn't go well for us. We know we are better than the last time we played here." That was in late April. The Mariners had just been swept at home by the Twins, and it was three-and-out against the Angels. Not only that, Seattle never had even one lead in any of the three games. Right fielder Jose Guillen took care of that with his first swing of the night -- sending a first-pitch fastball from Angels right-hander Bartolo Colon far over the center-field fence in the first inning. "That was the hardest-hit ball all night," Hargrove said. "It got small real quick." That blast got the Mariners off to a good start. But the first of Beltre's two home runs produced the eventual winning runs. It came in the sixth inning with Sexson aboard on a one-out single to left field. Beltre's second home run of the game -- providing his 15th multihomer game -- capped a six-run seventh inning that included, among other things, what Hargrove described as Sexson's "best at-bat of the season." With two runners on base and one out, Sexson battled through a prolonged at-bat against right-handed reliever Hector Carrasco, fouling off four two-strike pitches before driving an opposite-field home run. "It was a good at-bat," Sexson acknowledged. "I fouled off some good pitches. He threw me quite a few changeups, and he hasn't done that to me in the past. He must have thrown five or six to me, and I kept fouling them off until I got a fastball." Beltre has a lot of great at-bats recently. Since getting a day off last Thursday to get a mental break following an 0-for-12 skid, he has a hit in four consecutive games, going 11-for-17 with four doubles, three home runs and four RBIs. He tied a club record with four extra-base hits on Monday night. Besides his two home runs, Beltre doubled in the second and fourth innings. Of Beltre's four extra-base hits, "None were bigger than the two-run homer to put us ahead, 6-4," Hargrove said. The towering blast to left-center came off Angels starter Bartolo Colon, who lost his second straight decision after starting the season on a five-game winning streak. Beltre is now batting .389 (14-for-36) with six doubles, four home runs and 11 RBIs in his career against Colon -- and he has no clue why he has done so well against the former Cy Young Award winner. "He really has good stuff, and when he's on, you can't touch him," Beltre said. Monday night apparently was not one of those nights. Although, the way the Mariners have been hitting lately, it might have been more about the way they hit than the way Colon threw.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.