Angels' bats can't help Santana
The Halos' pitcher got little run support in a 10th-inning loss to the Mariners
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Mike Napoli hammered the first pitch he saw from Seattle Mariners pitcher Jason Vargas early in Sunday's game, there was a sense that a repeat was in store. All indications pointed to it. The Los Angeles Angels would roll to their fourth win in as many games since returning from the All-Star break.
Starting pitcher Ervin Santana appeared sharp, so much so that another run would probably do. After all, the Angels were facing a team they had defeated eight times in a row and outscored 18-11 in the series.
Vargas, though, never let fans break out their brooms. Aside from the one mistake to Napoli in the second inning, the left-hander who played his college ball at nearby Long Beach State kept Angels hitters dazed and in check.
"You pretty much knew what you were getting, you could sit on it and still couldn't hit it," said Torii Hunter following the Angels' 2-1, 10-inning loss Sunday before 38,883 at Angel Stadium.
The Mariners avoided the dreaded four-game sweep and won for just the third time in their last 15 games. Jose Lopez broke his bat -- and a 1-1 tie -- with a blooping, run-scoring single to left off Kevin Jepsen in the 10th inning.
Santana pitched well enough to win, allowing a run in seven strong innings before giving way to the bullpen. The offense, though, went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Napoli's second homer in as many days and team-best 16th of the year was the only thing going right for the Angels' offense.
"I hate that we don't get runs for [Santana] and come through for a guy," said Hunter, who lined into an inning-ending double play in the sixth after Howie Kendrick had led off with a triple. "He's been pitching his butt off and we just can't come through."
Vargas could have won too, but the meager Mariners attack went just 2-for-9 in scoring situations. Vargas left with two outs in the eighth, but not before he had struck out a career-high nine batters. He pulled a Houdini act after Kendrick led off the Angels' sixth with a triple to center. Vargas got No. 3 hitter Bobby Abreu to bounce out softly to first base. Hunter followed with a screamer that was snared by drawn-in Mariners shortstop Josh Wilson. Kendrick, who was racing toward home thinking the ball would get through, was doubled off at third.
"Vargas has come a long way," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "This guy has terrific command and can change speeds very well."
Santana, who left the clubhouse before reporters were allowed to enter, did not give up a hit until Lopez's two-out single in the fourth. He began the game by retiring 12 of the first 15 batters he faced, then ran into trouble. Ryan Langerhans singled, stole second, moved to third on Rob Johnson's single and came home to score on a wild pitch.
He faced another tough spot in the seventh, but gobbled up an Ichiro Suzuki comebacker that would have scored the go-ahead run.
"Ervin has been as consistent as anybody in our league," Scioscia said. "We just didn't get him the support this afternoon."
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Hunter offered some perspective.
"It's hard to sweep a professional team, no matter who it is," he said. "Seattle wasn't going to let that happen. Their pitchers did a great job and they came through in the end with a big hit."
More roster moves
Aside from placing pitcher Scott Kazmir (shoulder fatigue) on the 15-day disabled list, the Angels recalled and reinstated utility infielder Maicer Izturis (strained left forearm) following his month-long stint on the DL. To make room, Paul McAnulty was designated for assignment.
"Paul needs to go down there and start swinging again," Scioscia said. "We just don't have many at-bats for him here and we need some pitching."
Quote of the day
"We're not here to sweep ballclubs, we're here to win series." -- Hunter after the Angels failed to sweep the Mariners
Scioscia did not name a replacement for Kazmir, but he said Tuesday's spot would be filled by someone not currently on the major league roster.
The Angels will draw Phil Hughes (11-2, 3.65 ERA), who beat Kazmir at Yankee Stadium on April 15. The right-hander threw five innings of two-run ball and struck out six. Hughes, who six years ago graduated from nearby Foothill High School in Santa Ana, has won six of his last seven decisions. He picked up the loss in his first All-Star Game appearance last week.