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August 31, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Mariners try to put serious crimp in Angels playoff hopes

Carter Capps came on in the sixth and gave up another run on a double to left field by Torii Hunter, making it a 6-1 game as we head to the seventh inning.
Dan Haren has somehow stayed in the game after that shaky 28-pitch first inning and is pretty much steamrolling ahead like the Haren of old. This just isn’t Seattle’s night.

8:49 p.m.: The Angels have opened up a 5-1 lead as we head to the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring all of their runs off Kevin Millwood in the opening four frames. Millwood was actually sent back out to work the fifth with his pitch count at 97 and managed to get through that with 20 more tosses — allowing another single — and he’s now done for the night.
Michael Saunders appeared to re-injure his groin in the fourth inning, chasing down a Torii Hunter line drive to right field. Saunders made the catch, but took several short stutter steps at the end and appeared to be in some discomfort.
When the inning ended, he was pulled aside by trainer Rick Griffin in the dougout and Eric Thames came out moments later to the on-deck circle to replace his spot in the batting order.
Los Angeles scored a fifth run in that fourth on a leadoff walk to Mike Trout, a single by Albert Pujols and then a single to center by Kendrys Morales, who now has four RBI.
7:55 p.m.: Kevin Millwood allowed an unearned run in the second and now trails 4-1. With two out, Mike Trout reached on a Kyle Seager throwing error. Seager rushed his throw with the speedy Trout hustling up the line and it pulled first baseman Justin Smoak off the bag.
Then, Brendan Ryan tried a coule of backhanded shovel passes to second on some tough grounders and none of them went anywhere productive. Looked like he’d have had a better chance getting Torii Hunter at first base on the initial grounder, which went for an infield single. Then, on the second attempted shovel, the ball slipped from his hand and Trout scored all the way from second base — never breaking stride.
That was Trout’s 104th run of the season, a new Angels rookie record.
7:42 p.m.: Dan Haren got out of the first inning still up 3-1, but the way he’s pitching his bullpen could be in for a long night. Haren, as I mentioned earlier, looks like he’s running on fumes at times and that first inning was underwhelming to say the least.
He needed 28 pitches to get out of it, plus a plethora of throws to first base on Franklin Gutierrez, one of which went wild for a two-base error that got Guti to third. John Jaso later singled with two out to bring the run home.
Back to Haren, he looked tentative from the get-go despite the lead. He used to come right at guys with heat, now was just nibbling around the edges and mostly missing. He’s fortunate Kyle Seager missed on his cut at a 2-0 pitch down the pipe and fouled it straight back.
The way Haren looks so far, if the M’s can hold the Angels off the scoreboard, they should be right back in this thing by about the third or fourth inning. Angels better have some relievers ready.
7:25 p.m.: It’s been a rough month of August for Kevin Millwood, who entered tonight 0-3 with a 5.76 ERA for that span and now trails 3-0 after an inning of play here. Kendrys Morales did the damage with a three-run homer to dead center after Millwood started falling behind hitters with frequency.
Millwood yielded a one-out single to Torii Hunter, then walked Albert Pujols before watching Morales golf his 2-1 offering into the seats. For all the damage Morales has done to Seattle with his homers, it still won’t make up for the damage he did to himself two years ago. You’ll remember how he beat the Mariners with a walk-off grand slam, then broke his leg jumping into the celebratory pile at home plate.
That injury cost Morales the rest of 2010 and then all of 2011. He now has 18 homers on the year — 10 of them in the second half alone.
7:00 p.m.: There are still 4 1/2 weeks of season to go, so this series isn’t exactly do-or-die for the Angels, unless of course, they go out and get swept while both wild-card teams go off on winning runs. Then, it could be a problem. We’re getting to that time of year where a gap of four or five games starts to get a bit too big.
The Angels know they’ll have their hands full with Felix Hernandez tomorrow. So, if they come out stumbling with Dan Haren on the mound — the way they did three weeks ago in Anaheim when these clubs met — this series can go wrong on them in a hurry. The Mariners have shown they can pound bad pitching, whether it’s thrown at them by a good team or a horrible one.
I’m told Haren’s back woes are now behind him. But his arm has an awful lot of recent innings on it and may be running short on bullets. He’s been up-and-down of late, but it’s better than getting whupped every time out as was happening earlier in the month.
So, the M’s have a chance here to really do some damage to a division opponent. For the Angels, the time for messing around with a $160 million payroll is long done. The serious part of the schedule starts tonight.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan


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