Escobar, Anderson spark the Angels, 3-1
Over the last two months, the Seattle Mariners have steadily cut into the Angels’ lead in the American League West. Over the next three days, the Angels will try to protect the little that remains of it.
What was once an eight-game margin is down to two.
Kelvim Escobar and Garret Anderson didn’t allow the buffer to erode any more Sunday, lifting the Angels to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays and preventing them from losing for the fourth time in five games. Escobar (15-6) gave up a run over eight innings in the final game of a seven-game homestand, in which Anderson had three home runs, including one Sunday that was his 250th.
The Angels and Mariners will face each other only seven more times, starting today in the first game of a three-game series at Seattle. The Angels will play host to a four-game series Sept. 20-23.
“It’s going to be nice knowing we don’t have to look at the scoreboard to know what’s going on,” said Jered Weaver, who is scheduled to pitch Wednesday. “We’ll see what happens in the game, and hopefully we’re the ones who come out on top.”
Weaver’s stake could be more personal than that of his teammates. His brother Jeff will pitch for the Mariners on Tuesday, which could be why he was the rare Angel to acknowledge the series wouldn’t be ordinary.
“This series isn’t going to make or break either team,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “If you come out of the series and you play well and you come away with wins, your task isn’t done. And if you play poorly, you’re not defeated.”
The Angels have won eight of their 12 games with the Mariners and are batting .308 with 14 home runs against them. Vladimir Guerrero is 21 for 44 (.477) in those games with four home runs and 13 runs batted in, and Orlando Cabrera is 20 for 50 (.400).
The Angels have won 21 of their last 34 games at Safeco Field.
But Ichiro Suziki and Co. won the last series, winning two of three games July 30-Aug. 1, and Scioscia has been concerned with his team’s form after the All-Star break. The Angels were 53-35 prior to the break and are 23-19 since.
“We need to work some of the inconsistencies out that have crept into some of our play,” Scioscia said. “As our run gets deeper, we get some guys back into our roster, a lot of that will take care of itself.”
But when those players will come back remains uncertain.
Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman were injured last week and are not yet swinging bats.
Figgins sprained a wrist in the Angels’ victory over the New York Yankees on Tuesday and the Angels have scored only 14 runs in the five games they’ve played without him.
“It’s frustrating, but you can’t be mad at yourself,” Figgins said. “They say the worst thing for the human body is stress. The human body heals itself better than anything, so I don’t think stress helps.”
Figgins’ absence was part of the reason why it was so important for Anderson to break out of a one-for-12 skid Sunday with a homer and a double. Scioscia also praised Maicer Izturis, whose fourth-inning single drove in Anderson. Izturis has driven in 15 runs in his last 17 starts.
The Mariners, on the other hand, haven’t put any position players on the disabled list this season. The consistency has allowed nine Mariners to drive in 50 runs or more, compared with five for the Angels.