By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
APRIL 22, 2002
GAME 19- ANGELS AT MARINERS
SEATTLE -- It's one thing when a team's pitchers have trouble throwing the ball over the plate. A couple of Angels pitchers showed Monday night that an inability to throw to first base can have equally destructive consequences.
Angels starter Scott Schoeneweis discovered that the hard way in a 16-5 loss to the Seattle Mariners before 33,119 at Safeco Field. The Angels have lost all five games to the Mariners this season and 20 of 24 going back to last season. They are 9 1/2 games behind Seattle in the American League West.
Schoeneweis (1-3) was tagged for eight runs in just 2 1/3 innings, but his troubles started with a throw to first in the third inning. With one out, Mike Cameron hit a comebacker to Schoeneweis, who fielded the ball to the left of the mound and turned to throw to first. Instead, he stopped his throwing motion, re-cocked his arm and threw the ball away for an error as Cameron went all the way to third.
''He read my eyes and saw they weren't focused on him,'' said first baseman Scott Spiezio, who was playing deep and off the line and had a long way to go to get to first. ''I think it scared him. I told him, don't worry, just throw it. I'll pick up the ball in the air.''
Instead of having two out and nobody on, the Mariners were in business. A walk, an RBI double, an RBI single and an intentional walk later, Mark McLemore hit a grand slam to put the finishing touches on Schoeneweis.
It turned into a six-run inning and an 8-0 Mariners lead. It was only the third inning, but the game was over.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Schoeneweis tried to ''force pitches'' after the error and instead created bigger problems for himself.
''Those guys, they don't miss,'' Schoeneweis said of the Mariners. ''I made a mistake to McLemore when I couldn't make a mistake. But the other guys didn't miss anything. I don't know what they're taking or what they're doing, but I want some of it.
''What are they, 16-4? It's amazing to watch what's going on over there. ... You make good pitches and they get hit. You make bad pitches and they get hit -- far.''
As the gap between the Mariners and Angels continues to grow, the Angels are trying their best to stay positive, all the while knowing things had better change before things get out of hand like it did last year.
''We've created a hole,'' Spiezio said. ''I believe and a lot of people believe we're capable of digging our way out. These are great teams we're playing, but there are no excuses. We have to beat these teams if we're going to get the playoffs.''
For McLemore, it was his first career grand slam in 5,348 major league at-bats. He had been the active major leaguer with the most at-bats without a grand slam. He added an RBI double later in the game for a career-high five RBIs.
In the third inning, Angels reliever Lou Pote's pickoff attempt to first base not only went over Spiezio's head, but it sailed into the seats beyond the first-base dugout on the fly. The Mariners also turned that error into a run.
The good news for the Angels was that their offense continued its recent hot stretch. The Angels scored 21 runs in their previous three games in Oakland, and managed to put a little pressure on Mariners starter Jamie Moyer.
The Angels got an RBI single by Garret Anderson and a sacrifice fly by Tim Salmon for two runs in the fourth. In the sixth, Troy Glaus hit a sacrifice fly and Anderson had a two-run homer, his third of the season, cutting their deficit to 9-5.
But Donne Wall replaced Pote to start the seventh and gave up six runs. He faced seven batters and all seven reached base. Moyer (3-1) gave up five runs in seven innings, which were good enough for the victory.
The 16 runs are double the most scored by an Angels opponent this season. In the five games against the Mariners, the Angels have been outscored 42-15. Asked if their problems against the Mariners are becoming a mental problem, Scioscia emphatically said no.
''It's not going to happen,'' he said. ''This club's too talented and comes to play. It's not going to happen.''
SEATTLE -- Count Mariners general manager Pat Gillick among those amazed at the club's major league-best 16-4 start, which includes Monday night's win over the Angels. The Mariners were 16-4 through 20 games last season, on their way to tying a major league record with 116 wins.
''Anytime you get off to a start like this, it's surprising. It's rather unusual,'' Gillick said before the game. ''It's rather unusual to do it two years in a row. You have to have a lot of things go your way to be 15-4.''
Some of the faces on this year's team are different from last year, but the results have been strikingly similar.
''Our players never think they're out of a game, they always think they're still in it no matter the score,'' Gillick said. ''The other thing is the bullpen. Once we get to the sixth inning, if we're close or ahead, we have a good chance. Our bullpen was pretty dominating last year and it's pretty dominating this year. The way baseball is now, shortening the game like that is big.''
One big addition to the Mariners bullpen this season is Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who came courtesy of the Angels. They opted to save money instead of re-sign the right-hander. The Angels also might have had questions about Hasegawa's health. Last year Hasegawa missed five weeks because of a slightly torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
This season, Hasegawa is 3-0 with one save and a 0.00 ERA in 12 innings.
''We had him visit the doctor before we signed him,'' Gillick said. ''We didn't think there was a problem. But it's early in the season, we'll have to wait and see what happens.''
Center fielder Darin Erstad was examined by Angels team physician Dr. Craig Milhouse on Monday. Milhouse recommended that Erstad see Dr. Betsy Parker, a neuro pyschologist at UC Irvine Medical Center.
Dr. Parker's exam will center on Erstad's reflexes and cognitive skills.
Erstad suffered a mild concussion after hitting his chin on the turf trying to catch a fly ball last Friday in Oakland. The Angels are hoping that Erstad will be able to return Friday when the Angels return home to play the Blue Jays.
If Erstad is not ready by then, the Angels will consider putting him on the disabled list.
For the third time in less than a week, second baseman Adam Kennedy was on the bench Monday because the opposing team had a left-handed pitcher throwing. Jose Nieves got the start in Kennedy's place in all three games.
''Adam's swing isn't right where it was in spring training,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''Right now we want to get Jose contributing.''
Kennedy, hitting .208 this season, said Scioscia has spoken with him about the situation and he understands. Last season Kennedy wondered aloud about his place with the team.
''He's just trying to give the team a different look,'' Kennedy said. ''When you get off to a slow start, you start thinking about things. I've just got to keep getting after it.''