ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)David Fletcher is a soft-spoken middle infielder and a sixth-round draft choice who has sneaked up on stardom during four increasingly impressive seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.
Fletcher is sitting on the second-longest hitting streak in Angels history after yet another monster offensive game. His talents are unlikely to surprise anyone again after this incredible five-week stretch, and that’s how his manager and teammates think it should be.
”No doubt, he is a confident young man,” Angels skipper Joe Maddon said. ”I think there’s Joe Namath, and then there’s David Fletcher. Two tremendous lore-like heroes. He’s got that thing. There’s nothing on that baseball field that he doesn’t think he can do. The lore of David Fletcher is beginning.”
Fletcher extended his streak to 26 games with three doubles and five RBIs, and Taylor Ward homered and drove in three runs in Los Angeles’ 9-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
Fletcher wasted zero time extending the Angels’ longest hitting streak in 23 years, doubling to left field on Yusei Kikuchi’s first pitch.
The hit broke Fletcher’s tie with Rod Carew’s 25-game streak in 1982. Only Garret Anderson’s 28-game string in 1998 is ahead of him in Angels history. Fletcher matched the longest streak in the majors since Wilson Ramos’ 26-gamer in 2019, and that was the longest since Freddie Freeman’s 30-game streak in 2016.
Fletcher then cleared the bases in the second inning with a powerful double to center. He added a two-run double off the left field wall in the eighth, boosting his average to .454 (49 for 108) during the streak with 13 doubles and 21 RBIs.
”There’s nobody I’ve played with that’s more confident than he is, and he backs it up,” Angels starter Alex Cobb said. ”He’s just fun to be around. He’s got this energy about him that he’s just going to get the job done, and that’s what he looks like when he’s playing. It’s not always going to be pretty, but he’s going to get the job done. You can’t play defense on him. He hits everything.”
Cobb (7-3) yielded five hits over 6 2/3 innings in another strong start for the Angels, who have won seven of 11. Los Angeles compensated for a four-strikeout night by major league home run leader Shohei Ohtani with homers by Jack Mayfield and Taylor Ward, who also doubled and singled.
Mitch Haniger hit a three-run homer off Alex Claudio in the ninth for Seattle, matching his career high with four RBIs while reaching base in his 17th consecutive game.
Kikuchi (6-5) struggled against almost everyone but Ohtani in his first start back from the break, yielding nine hits and seven runs with seven strikeouts over five innings. Kikuchi also gave up five runs in a loss to the Yankees right before the break.
”These past two games, the main thing is that my fastball velocity was just not there in both those games,” Kikuchi said through his translator. ”I think that’s the only problem, honestly. I’m just looking forward to making the proper adjustment.”
Cobb walked four and struck out six in a resilient effort, maintaining his position as a bright spot in the Angels’ dim rotation.
He has won six of his last nine starts, and his ERA dropped below 4.00 for the first time since May during this victory. Cobb is the first Angels pitcher to win five consecutive home starts since Jered Weaver in 2013.
Los Angeles had a 5-0 lead before Seattle finally scored in the fifth on Haniger’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly, but Cobb limited the damage to a run.
Ward then slugged his eighth homer in the bottom half, a two-run shot.
”In those spots in many games this year, we’ve got the big hit to get us back in the game or extend the lead,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ”They made some really good plays tonight, and it just wasn’t our time.”
REVENGE SERVED LUKEWARM
Mayfield put the Angels up 5-0 in the fourth with a solo homer, his first for the Angels in two stints with the club. The Mariners designated Mayfield for assignment last month just 11 games after they claimed him off waivers from Los Angeles, which claimed him right back.
Mayfield added a double in the eighth.
SHOHEI DOWN DAY
Ohtani went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Kikuchi, his fellow AL All-Star and Hanamaki Higashi High School graduate, after going 4 for 9 in their previous major league meetings.
Ohtani finished 0 for 5 in his first four-strikeout game since Aug. 30, 2019.
Mariners: OF Jake Fraley was scratched from the starting lineup again due to illness.
Angels: All-Star Jared Walsh fouled a ball off the ground and into his face in the seventh inning, but shook it off.
Patrick Sandoval (2-3, 3.70 ERA) pitches for Los Angeles against Logan Gilbert (3-2, 3.51), who makes his 11th career start in the series finale. The Mariners have won Gilbert’s last eight starts. Sandoval took a loss in Seattle last week despite throwing a career-best seven innings of two-run ball.
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