By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
APRIL 11, 2002
GAME 9 - MARINERS AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- Only moments after Angels manager Mike Scioscia held a closed-door meeting to tell his players to relax, right fielder Tim Salmon was doing anything but, taking batting practice in the underground cage.
The Seattle Mariners beat the Angels, 8-4, Thursday night before 18,806 at Edison Field, completing a four-game sweep in Anaheim for the first time in franchise history. Going back to last season, the Mariners have beaten the Angels 12 consecutive games in Anaheim and 19 of 23 overall.
After the game, Scioscia gathered his players for 20 minutes in an effort to loosen them up and boost their confidence after the defending American League West champs dismantled them in the series, 26-10.
''The guys are upbeat and positive, they just have to relax and play the game,'' Scioscia said as Paul Pressler, the acting president of the club, stood in the back of the office. ''If anybody's at fault, they're trying too hard.
''That's a good ballclub in there, and we're going to show it. As much as we, the coaches, and the organization believe in this club, the players need to believe.''
The Angels beefed up their starting rotation and put together a solid starting lineup this offseason, but when it came to their bullpen they went bargain shopping, and it cost them during the series with Seattle.
Already hamstrung without closer Troy Percival, the Angels' bullpen was exposed during the four losses. In the four games, Angels relievers gave up nine runs and 13 hits in 13 innings.
To make matters worse, ex-Angel Shigetoshi Hasegawa, let go to save money, needed 20 pitches to record the final eight outs in relief of starter Freddy Garcia.
In fact, until Adam Kennedy singled with two out in the ninth, the Mariners bullpen had not allowed a hit all series. In all, the Mariners relievers combined for 10 1/3 innings and allowed no runs and one hit.
''We know Hase is a fine pitcher, and he's throwing the ball well,'' Scioscia said. ''He's going to do a good job for them, and he did well against us.''
Meanwhile, Hasegawa's replacement, Donne Wall, gave up a three-run double to Jeff Cirillo in the Mariners' six-run sixth, breaking open a close game.
''We've got guys who aren't throwing the ball as well as we know they're going to,'' Scioscia said. ''We have confidence in all these guys. Our bullpen's solid.''
Angels starter Scott Schoeneweis pitched well for five innings, allowing two runs and three hits. But in the sixth, the Mariners scored six times, all six charged to Schoeneweis even though it was Wall who gave up Cirillo's three-run double.
''I can't really put my finger on it,'' Schoeneweis said when asked what happened in the sixth. ''I think I was pressing a little bit, trying to make the perfect pitch. We just scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth and I wanted to come back out and put up a zero.''
Meanwhile, Garcia, who lost his first two starts of the season, continued his mastery of the Angels. He went 5-0 with a 0.96 ERA against them last year, and picked up where he left off on Thursday.
While he wasn't dominating by any means, he gave up four runs (three earned) and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings to get the victory. David Eckstein and Kennedy each had three hits for the Angels.
Mariners center fielder Mike Cameron had a big game, hitting a two-run homer and making a spectacular catch with the bases loaded to rob Garret Anderson of extra bases and RBIs.
ANAHEIM -- There is no truth to the rumor that hitting coach Mickey Hatcher called a hitters-only meeting and no Angels showed up. In fact, any Angel who isn't a pitcher met with Hatcher as a group for about 20 minutes before batting practice Thursday.
The Angels went into Thursday's game ranked 13th (next to last) in the American League in batting average (.212), extra-base hits (18), homers (three), on-base percentage (.279) and slugging percentage (.308).
They had a terrible season offensively last season, so Hatcher and manager Mike Scioscia wanted to try to alleviate some of the pressure the hitters might be putting on themselves.
''As a staff we know how important it is to show patience,'' Scioscia said. ''I think some guys have ghosts of September that we thought were erased in spring training. Right now we're firing on about two of 12 cylinders.''
Hatcher said he emphasized being aggressive and having fun during the meeting.
''It doesn't do any good to let a guy throw a first-pitch fastball for a strike,'' Hatcher said. ''Don't be afraid to swing and miss, because it'll put some intimidation on the pitcher out there. I want the guys to swing their way out of it and not think about mechanics.
''The guys need to loosen up and have fun. It's not as bad as it seems. You have to have fun to play this game. Have fun and compete.''
Hatcher said that was the approach the players took in spring training, and it paid off. And that's why they had so much optimism coming out of Arizona.
''Just when you think everything's going to be great, somebody knocks you down,'' center fielder Darin Erstad said. ''This is a good test for us. We have to continue to work hard and do the things that make you successful.''
Last season with the Mariners, Aaron Sele didn't get a loss until the Angels beat him, 8-1, on June 22. Before that game, Sele was 8-0. In his career Sele has been a fast starter, going 22-5 in April and 19-14 in May going into this season.
But with the Angels, Sele is 0-2 with a 9.90 ERA in two starts, which includes Wednesday's 8-1 loss to his former Mariner teammates.
''His velocity is fine, his pitches are sharp, but his command isn't there,'' Scioscia said. ''He's having trouble with his mechanics, so it's something he's trying to work through.''
Said Sele: ''Good hitters, bad pitches, not a good combination.''