Jay Bruce has accomplished a lot in 10 seasons in the major leagues. On Friday night, he experienced his own beer shower for the first time.
Bruce hit his 300th career home run to join a fairly exclusive group, Tom Murphy hit a two-run shot, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-3.
"You know, a personal beer shower, that's probably my first one," Bruce said. "It's good. Cold — it's very cold. If you had told me I was going to hit my 300th home run playing first base for the Seattle Mariners, I probably would have called you crazy."
Bruce's seventh-inning homer to center field provided the insurance run the Mariners needed to preserve the narrow victory, snapping a three-game losing streak. Bruce, who was an outfielder for much of his career, became the eighth active player with 300 home runs and 300 doubles (he's got 301), achieved in 1,557 games.
That list includes teammate Edwin Encarnacion (a late scratch due to a root canal) and the Angels' Albert Pujols. The win snapped the Angels' three-game winning streak and wasted a fairly strong start by Tyler Skaggs (4-5), who struck out eight and gave up just five hits but made a handful of costly mistakes while giving up four runs in seven innings.
Skaggs' first mistake came a few pitches after Murphy doubled off the top of the wall in the third inning for the Mariners' first hit. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale called a balk on Skaggs and sent Murphy to third. He easily scored on Dylan Moore's single for a 1-0 lead. Skaggs messed up again in the fifth when he walked Bruce with two outs. Murphy then homered to right field for a 3-0 lead.
"It's extremely frustrating," Skaggs said. "I thought I was really, really good and the results didn't show up. But at the same time, a lot of positives today. I really, really felt like it was the best I looked this year and (I want to) keep it rolling into the next one."
The Angels briefly got to Mike Leake (4-6) in the sixth inning when Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani hit back-to-back home runs to left field with two outs. It was the first time Los Angeles has hit consecutive home runs this season, but it wasn't enough for the Angels. Leake was otherwise flawless. He retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced, didn't issue a walk against two strikeouts and scattered five hits in seven innings.
He didn't allow a base runner other than Trout and Ohtani past first base. Servais thought it was Leake's best game in quite some time.
"Mike's a feel guy and he was feeling the breaking ball all night," he said.
The Mariners' bullpen again struggled after Leake left. Reliever Austin Adams walked two players after starting the eighth with a popout. Servais went to Jesse Biddle, who allowed Ohtani to single in a run to cut the lead to 4-3. Biddle followed by walking Kole Calhoun to load the bases. Anthony Bass came on and induced a fly ball to end the threat and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his first save.
He's one of seven Seattle relievers with at least one save this season. The Mariners, league leaders in errors, also got pristine defense with Murphy picking off a runner and Mitch Haniger making a diving catch in right field in the seventh, and Kyle Seager snatching up a slow roller barehanded in the ninth with a snap throw. Bass finished off the game with a strikeout.
"Bass really picked us up tonight," Servais said. "He hasn't been with the ballclub very long but I like what he does. He doesn't' give in."
Bruce hopes to get his home run ball back from the fan who caught it Friday night. He managed to track down home runs No. 100 and No. 200 after he hit them as well. "Honestly, I couldn't tell you where those are right now, but they're in my house," Bruce joked.
Angels: Reliever John Curtiss was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake City and RHP Jake Jewell was optioned to make room a day after he pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief against the Mariners. The team also designated RHP Matt Ramsey for assignment. Ausmus would not confirm that minor leaguer Jose Suarez will start Sunday's game in Seattle in place of regular starter Trevor Cahill, who will be pushed back a day.
Mariners: Servais sat down with LHP Yusei Kikuchi on Friday, a day after his second straight difficult start. The two talked over how the Japanese rookie felt and how he might be used going forward. Kikuchi could make another abbreviated start of one inning next week or he could be pulled for one spin of the rotation. That decision will probably come Saturday. Seattle continued to tinker with its bullpen Friday, recalling RHP Chasen Bradford from Triple-A Tacoma. He's had 10 major league relief appearances this season with one save and one hold. The Mariners optioned David McKay back to Tacoma to make room.
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (0-0, 3.60 ERA) will make his second start of the season and first on the road after returning from elbow inflammation.
Mariners: LHP Tommy Milone (1-1, 3.38 ERA) tries for his second consecutive win after striking out seven and allowing four hits in a 6-2 win over Texas.