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Mariners increase winning-streak to seven games as Walker tosses 3-hit gem, offense shines

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

9/13 at LAA by TOM HAYDEN

77-68, 9.5 GB in AL WEST, 2.0 GB in AL WILD CARD ----

7 STRAIGHT WINS! Let's get it, Mariners Nation! BOOYAH. The Mariners defeated the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night in Anaheim in stellar fashion, advancing to 9 games over that .500 mark. With 18.0 games left in the 2016 season, the Mariners have put themselves in a great position to really succeed and do some damage. They're going to make this Wild Card, and I'm not just saying that because I am a fan and daily writer for the Seattle Mariners' ball club, but compared to other Mariners teams I have covered in the past, this team separates the man (2016) from the boys (2002-2015, with exception to the 2014 Mariners team, who wouldn't really call a "boy" in this situation, even though they did not make the Postseason. Anyways, to get back on track, the Mariners took it to the Halos on Tuesday night to continue to gain in this American League Wild Card chase. A fine performance from RHP Taijuan Walker boosted the M's to a shutout victory, and offense shined again. RF Seth Smith connected for his second GRAND SLAM of the season in this one, and offense around him simply put the ball in play for run after run. With our 7th straight victory, the Mariners are now 77-68 on the season, 9.5 games in back of the first place Texas Rangers of the American League Western Division. For that American League Wild Card spot, the Mariners are just 2.0 games back, yes, 2.0 games back, heading into Wednesday's nationally televised series finale match-up on ESPN with these Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Offensively on Monday night at the big A, the M's combined to put up an impressive 8 runs on 10 hits off of Halo's pitching. DH Nelson Cruz (.287 AVG) who was my pick for offensive player of the game went 3-for-3 at the dish with a run scored and 2 RBI! Nelson connected for his 36th homer of the season in the top of the first inning to get this seventh straight win started, a no doubt BLAST, and I'm talking BLAST to left for a 2-run home run. You could hear the ball off the wood-bat as loud and clear as the sound of those 2 things colliding possibly gets. Nelson Cruz now has 91 total RBI on the season so far. Nelly also connected for his 25th double of the season so far in this one. LF Norichika Aoki (.272 AVG) continues to play good baseball, as he went 2-for-3 on the night with 3 runs scored and an RBI in this one. Aoki connected for a solo blast in the second inning for his 3rd homer of the year, and 2nd of this road-trip! Norichika now has 22 RBI on the season. Also homering in this one, and homering BIG was RF Seth Smith (.262 AVG) who connected for his second GRAND SLAM of the season, this time pinch-hit style, in the top of the sixth inning to give Seattle a commanding 8-0 lead over the Halos! The homer was Smith's 14th of the season, and the 4-RBI night now gives him 55 total on the year so far. SS Ketel Marte (.268 AVG) went 1-for-3 on the night with his 21st double of the season in this one. Marte also plated a run via a sacrifice fly-out to center field in the top of the second inning, plating Leonys Martin. The RBI was Ketel's 31st on the season so far for Seattle! 

On the mound on Tuesday night at the big A, RHP Taijuan Walker tossed a GEM, and is mine as well as everybody else's pick for Mariners Player of the Game. Walker came into the game coming off a decent last start, but prior to that, some ugly ones. Seeing Walker toss a game like this made Mariners fans everywhere remember how good Mr. Walker is out there. Boy, was he ready to play on Tuesday night. Walker went 9.0 innings COMPLETE giving up no runs on no hits with no walks while striking out a very impressive 11 Angels on the night! Now that is one heck of a line. Obviously, Taijuan took home the win in this one, and now has an individual W-L record of 6-10 on the season with an ERA of 4.28 in now just under 120.0 innings tossed so far this season. Taijuan tossed 113 pitches in the 9.0 inning outing, 82 of which were for strikes. Impressive. 

WHAT'S NEXT? : 

We're on National Television for the 5th time this year! The Mariners are looking to grab hold of their second straight sweep, as well as an undefeated West Coast road-trip on Wednesday night for a series finale ball at the Big A. Looking to help them get the M's their eighth straight win will be RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (15-11, 3.96 ERA) looking to snag what will be his career-high 16th win. This will be Kuma's 30th start of the season, most by any Mariners' pitcher. Iwakuma and the M's are set to face LAA RHP Jhoulys Chacin (5-8, 5.63 ERA). Be sure to catch all of the action, 7:05 PM PAC, 10:05 PM ET on ESPN or ROOT Sports NW for watching, or listen in on 710 ESPN Seattle Radio! 

MARINERS 365 NOTES: 

The Mariners have traded RHP Joe Weiland to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later, or cash.

A 2017 tentative schedule of next year's regular season has been released. Check it out on my twitter, @Mariners365 or on Mariners.com! 

This is Tom Hayden signing off saying Go Mariners! Stay #TrueToTheBlue as our M's #KeepFighting towards the PostSEAson! 

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