SEATTLE — Despite early struggles, the Los Angeles Angels are sitting where most expected when the All-Star break arrived: On top of the American League West.
Just don't expect the Angels to believe it holds any meaning other than being a benchmark.
"It's just kind of funny listening to a lot of the questions we had to field up to this point," Angels' catcher Chris Iannetta said. "I mean, really a lot could happen. This could be a good thing. It could turn out bad. You never know. That's why you play 162. If we keep doing this, we keep playing hard, we've got a good team, a good offense, a good pitching staff we believe we'll be OK."
Iannetta hit a two-run home run and David Freese added a two-run double as part of a six-run sixth inning, and the Angels entered the All-Star break in first place in the AL West after a 10-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
The Angels won for the 11th time in 14 games and leaped past Houston into the AL West lead for the first time since April 17 after the Astros lost their sixth straight on Sunday. It certainly hasn't been a simple first-half of the season for the Angels, who trailed the Astros by five games on July 1.
"I couldn't even tell you if we are (in first place) or not," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're playing well but we have a long way to go and we want to focus on how we're playing the game."
The Angels took advantage of three errors by Seattle and knocked around starter Taijuan Walker (7-7) for his worst outing in two months.
Freese just missed a homer, doubling off the top of the wall to end Walker's day in the sixth. Iannetta followed with his fifth homer of the season off reliever David Rollins to blow the game open.
Lost in the offensive outburst and Seattle's fielding woes was fourth strong start from Angels' lefty Andrew Heaney (3-0). Heaney pitched seven shutout innings, giving up just five hits. In his four starts since being called up from Triple-A Salt Lake this season, Heaney has not allowed more than two earned runs in any outing. He struck out six and walked only one, retiring 11 of the final 13 batters faced.
"I felt like throughout the day when I really needed a punch-out or needed to make a good pitch, I felt like I could do it," Heaney said.
The Angels took a 2-0 lead helped by Robinson Cano's fielding error that allowed Erick Aybar to score and Walker's wild pitch that sent Freese home. A throwing error on left fielder Mark Trumbo allowed Mike Trout to score with two outs in the third inning. Trout later scored in the sixth on a throwing error by Walker that ignited the six-run inning for the Angels.
Seattle goes into the All-Star break seven games under .500 and having alternated wins and losses in its past 12 games. The defensive miscues were combined with another day where the Mariners lacked situational hitting with runners in scoring position. Seattle had runners at second and third in the second inning but Heaney struck out Logan Morrison and Mike Zunino to end the threat. In the fifth, Brad Miller and Austin Jackson put together consecutive two out hits but Cano struck out swinging wildly at a 3-2 slider out of the strike zone.
"We just played the worst game of the year. I can't imagine a better time for the break," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said.
U.S. women's national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe threw out the first pitch before the game. Rapinoe, who played for the Seattle Reign FC in the NWSL, was given a standing ovation and threw from the top of the pitching mound with a full windup.
Angels: The Angels will open up after the All-Star break with a 10-game homestand starting against Boston.
Mariners: Seattle will next play on Friday in New York against the Yankees, part of a seven-game road trip.