By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
APRIL 10, 2002
GAME 8 - MARINERS AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- If the Angels wanted to make a statement, they picked a bad time to come down with a case of laryngitis.
With the defending American League West champion Seattle Mariners in town for a four-game series, the Angels figured it would be a good way to see how they stacked up. Three games into it, they have found they don't.
The Mariners jumped all over former teammate Aaron Sele on their way to an 8-1 win Wednesday night before 17,784 at Edison Field. Mariners starter James Baldwin, who took Sele's spot in the Mariners rotation, gave up one run and five hits in seven innings.
Baldwin didn't give up a hit until Tim Salmon singled with one out in the fifth. Meanwhile, the Mariners pounded Sele for 10 hits in five innings, including home runs by Bret Boone and John Olerud.
In the series, the Angels have made little more than a peep as the Mariners have outscored the Angels, 18-6. As a team, the Angels have hit .172 (16 for 93) in the series.
''We're definitely looking forward to meeting teams in our division early to see how you measure up head to head,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before the start of the series. ''That way you see what kinds of adjustments you need to make.''
The Mariners have beaten the Angels 11 consecutive times at Edison Field and 18 of 22 overall going back to the start of last season.
''They're a good club, and we've got to play better,'' Salmon said. ''We're capable of playing much better. But as a whole we're off kilter a little bit, off track.''
Scioscia shook up the lineup in an effort to get some offense, dropping Salmon to sixth, moving up Garret Anderson to third, Troy Glaus to fourth and Brad Fullmer to fifth. But after David Eckstein was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the first, the next 13 Angels hitters were retired.
''We're doing as poor a job offensively as I think we'll do at any time this year,'' Scioscia said. ''We're taking better hacks out there but you don't get anything for trying. We've got to get it done.''
Salmon, who went into the game hitting .125, broke up the no-hitter with a single to center in the fifth and broke up the shutout bid with an RBI single in the seventh.
''It's something to build on,'' Salmon said. ''I just swung. You don't want to go up there free swinging all the time but you don't want to go up and try to guide the ball, which is what I was doing. Somewhere in between is the perfect balance.''
Meanwhile, Sele, who was spurned by the Mariners' front office in the off-season, was burned by his former teammates on Wednesday.
Jeff Cirillo's sacrifice fly in the third inning gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead, but they broke open the game in the fourth. Singles by Olerud, Mike Cameron and Desi Relaford, a double by Dan Wilson and sacrifice flies by Mark McLemore and Suzuki resulted in four runs and a 5-0 lead.
Solo homers by Boone and Olerud in the fifth made it 7-0 and spelled the end for Sele. In his two starts, Sele has pitched 10 innings, allowing 11 runs and 18 hits.
''I was throwing my fastball over the middle of the plate,'' Sele said. ''I was trying to get the ball down or on either side of the plate, but I couldn't do that. It's mechanical. I have to put my body in the right position to be able to repeat quality pitches.
''To throw the ball the way I did, I did not give the team a chance after the fourth inning.''
Sele won 32 games in two years for the Mariners, who went to the playoffs both seasons he was there. And though Sele wanted to return to the Mariners, he was told the club planned to spend its money on offense. But he said going up against his ex-teammates was not a factor.
''I've gone through the process of facing old teammates,'' he said. ''You cross the line and battle and see what happens.''
ANAHEIM -- A struggling Tim Salmon was dropped from third to sixth in the batting order for Wednesday's game against the Mariners, but manager Mike Scioscia insists it's not a panic move, just a move to help his right fielder relax.
Salmon had the worst season of his career last year, hitting only .227, so he was hoping to get off to a fast start this season. He hit .404 in spring training with a team-leading four homers and 18 RBIs, but going into Wednesday's game was batting just .125 with nine strikeouts in 24 at-bats.
''We're trying to take the pressure off Timmy,'' Scioscia said. ''He wants to succeed so badly he's taken it upon himself to do everything at the plate.''
Last season Salmon's problems were more physical, as he was coming off shoulder surgery. This season, his health is good and his swing is fine. His confidence has taken a hit, but Scioscia said dropping him in the batting order was good for the team.
''We have to balance Tim's confidence with what the needs of the club are,'' Scioscia said. ''I think Tim understands the need to be more productive than what he did the first seven games.''
Salmon met with Scioscia and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher in the video room for about 20 minutes before batting practice.
''The main thing was to let him know we still have a lot of confidence in him,'' Hatcher said. ''We have no concerns. Look at A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez). That's what we told him. We're not the only offense in baseball that's having a tough time.''
Salmon said he didn't have a problem with the move.
''He's just trying to shake things up,'' Salmon said. ''I'm fine with that. What can I say? I'm not swinging the bat like I should.
''I wanted to get off to a good start, and the first week it didn't happen. Now we're playing Seattle and Oakland, maybe I am pressing a little bit. Whatever the reason, I'm trying to keep it in perspective. It's a week into the year.''
Salmon also said he needs to stop analyzing himself so much. After all, he isn't the only Angel hitter struggling. Going into Wednesday's game Garret Anderson (.222), Darin Erstad (.214), Adam Kennedy (.130), Bengie Molina (.238) and Scott Spiezio (.125) were all hitting less than .250.
Every team in the league has tried to figure out how to pitch to defending A.L. MVP Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, but Angels pitcher Jarrod Washburn has tried to keep it simple.
''My strategy is not to walk him, because he's so good on the bases,'' Washburn said. ''Other than that, throw strikes and hope he hits it at somebody. And don't throw it down the middle.''
Washburn's approach has worked -- Suzuki is hitting .222 (2 for 9) against Washburn with one walk.
''I don't think there's one way to pitch him,'' Washburn said. ''You can't just pitch him inside or just pitch him outside. He's one of those guys that makes adjustments as he goes. He learns you the more he faces you.''
Pitching coach Bud Black has left the team to be with his family after the death of his mother, who was living in Palm Springs. Black is expected to rejoin the team in a few days.