Justin Smoak had plenty of time to study the opposing pitcher during a 10-pitch at-bat in the fourth inning. Smoak had patiently waited out Los Angeles Angels starter Jered Weaver in that marathon duel Saturday night before lining a single for the game’s only run of the opening five frames. But then came the sixth, when Smoak jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Weaver and drove it over the center-field fence for a three-run homer in a 6-0 win by the Mariners. In a festive home clubhouse afterward, Smoak revealed that he had learned enough in the 10 prior Weaver pitches to do plenty of damage with the next one he saw — in the sixth. “The first two at-bats, he threw me a bunch of off-speed,’’ Smoak said. “So, I was thinking he was going to try to sneak a fastball in there first pitch. And I was able to put a good swing on it.’’ And thus continues the evolving growth process of Smoak, a hitter who drove in the first four runs of this game and looks increasingly like the guy the Mariners hoped they were trading for in 2010. His home run extended to 21 games his team’s franchise-record streak with at least one home run. It also helped the Mariners move to one victory of securing their first series sweep of the season. A crowd of 32,458 at Safeco Field saw the Mariners knock Angels ace Weaver from the game after just 52 / 3 innings. They also saw Felix Hernandez toss eight scoreless innings en route to his 10th victory of the season. That’s the most wins ever by Hernandez before the All-Star break and helped him exact some revenge on an Angels team that scored seven runs off him in Anaheim last month to eventually erase an 8-1 deficit and hand the Mariners a devastating loss.
Mariners blank Angels behind Smoak’s three-run shot
Seattle Times | Jul 14