By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
GAME 7 - MARINERS AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- The Angels are nearing an anniversary of sorts, only it's not any reason to throw a party.
April 13 will mark the one-year anniversary of the Angels' last victory against the Seattle Mariners at Edison Field. Meanwhile, the Mariners celebrated their 10th consecutive victory in Anaheim, a 5-1 win before 17,210 on Tuesday night.
The Angels have Wednesday and Thursday to break the streak and avoid the dubious distinction of going a full year without a win at home against a division opponent, but it seems only a formality.
No matter what the Angels do against the Mariners, it's never enough.
''I don't know,'' Angels center fielder Darin Erstad said when asked why the Angels have had such problems with the Mariners. ''If I had the answer I wouldn't have to worry about it. No doubt they're a good team. We just haven't been able to get over the hump against them. We just haven't got it going yet. Unfortunately we're playing in our division, so it gets magnified. We've got to get it cranked up.''
Tuesday the Angels got a solid outing from starter Kevin Appier, who gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings. But Mariners starter John Halama, who pitched a perfect game for Triple-A Tacoma last year, confounded the Angels hitters all night before the Mariner bullpen shut the door completely.
Halama has always given the Angels trouble -- going into Tuesday's game, he was 5-1 with a 2.97 ERA in nine career games against them. The Angels seem to have trouble against pitchers like Halama, who throws three speeds -- slow, slower and slowest.
In the first inning, Halama threw 18 pitches, but only one reached 80 mph. In the sixth inning he threw a curveball for a called strike on Tim Salmon that registered 67 mph on the radar gun.
Halama was finished after six innings having allowed one run and four hits, leaving the game in the capable hands of the bullpen. Jeff Nelson worked a perfect seventh inning, Arthur Rhodes pitched a perfect eighth and Kazuhiro Sasaki threw a perfect ninth for his third save.
In fact, after Jose Nieves' leadoff double in the fifth, Mariners pitchers retired the final 15 Angels batters to end it.
''Is it frustrating? Yes,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''Is it demoralizing? No. I know these guys can hit. We were swinging the bat good 10 days ago. You don't forget how to hit. We'll get back to it.''
It will help that Wednesday the Angels get back third baseman Troy Glaus, who completed his two-game suspension for his role in the March 9 fight with the Padres.
''I'll take Troy Glaus every day of the week and twice on Thursday,'' Erstad said. ''He's a difference maker. Without him we'd be 1-6, because he won two games for us in Texas. Having him in there should make everybody relax a little bit.''
Scioscia, though, said the Angels need to be able to produce without Glaus or anybody else that might be out of the lineup.
''Our winning isn't contingent on one guy having to carry the club,'' he said. ''If it is, we're in trouble.''
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by David Eckstein, but the Mariners went up for good in the sixth on Mark McLemore's two-run homer.
McLemore, who began his major league career with the Angels in 1986, has 43 career homers in 5,320 at-bats, or one every 124 at-bats. So the Angels weren't expecting McLemore to swing away with a runner on second and nobody out.
''It was a fastball up ... we were watching for the bunt pretty heavily,'' Appier said. ''I threw a pretty good anti-bunt pitch. I don't know if he guessed right, but he put a good swing on it and hit it out.''
The game remained 2-1 until the ninth when the Mariners scored three runs off Brendan Donnelly, who was making his major league debut. With two out and the bases loaded, Ben Davis singled to center to drive in two, and when center fielder Orlando Palmeiro booted the ball for an error, a third run scored to put the game away.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels let Shigetoshi Hasegawa go during the off-season in order to save about $1 million, but Hasegawa got his money's worth Monday night pitching for his new team, the Seattle Mariners.
Hasegawa pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Seattle's 5-4 victory. But he said pitching against his former teammates wasn't such a big deal after facing them in spring training.
''Spring training, that was a little weird,'' Hasegawa said. ''Right now during the season, I don't think about it. I didn't feel anything. It was easy to go up against them because I have an idea of what they're trying to do. I watched them bat all the time. It's not like facing a National League team for the first time. That's tough.''
Hasegawa said he hasn't shared his wealth of information about the Angels hitters with his Mariners teammates because he hasn't seen a need.
''They've already got big success against the Angels,'' he said. ''If they're not doing well, I'd tell them. Right now I don't have to tell.''
Watching the Angels bullpen blow the lead Monday was strange, Hasegawa said.
''I care about that bullpen, I was there five years,'' he said. ''(Al) Levine looked good, good slider. (Ben) Weber was bad, but I don't think he'll be bad all year. I still think they have a good bullpen.''
The bullpen will get a little stronger Wednesday because the club activated lefty Dennis Cook after Tuesday's game. Cook had been on the disabled list all season because of bruised ribs suffered during the March 9 spring training fight with the Padres.
Closer Troy Percival played soft toss for eight minutes before Tuesday's game, going through a full range of motion without feeling any pain in the strained muscle on his right side.
Still, he's not eligible to come off the disabled list until April 18, and the Angels have already felt his absence. They were able to win games in Texas without him as Levine earned the save in both games.
But Monday against Seattle, they took a 3-0 lead into the seventh and a 4-2 lead into the eighth only to lose, 5-4. Without Percival, the relievers might have to pitch longer than they're used to because the ninth inning is no longer reserved for Percival.
Percival, though, said he thinks his bullpen mates will be fine without him.
''They're professionals,'' he said. ''We don't have a lot of young guys down there. The guys know the game. They all know there are going to be bad days for the bullpen, for the team and for individuals. But the reason they're good is because they bounce back, and for the most part, are really consistent.''
Brad Fullmer was back in the designated hitter spot Tuesday after playing first base on Monday. Fullmer had two hits in Monday's game, but was taken out after the sixth inning in favor of defensive replacement Clay Bellinger.
The Angels led 3-0 at the time, but when Fullmer's spot in the batting order came around again in the seventh, it was 3-2 and the Angels had the bases loaded with two out. Jeff DaVanon pinch hit for Bellinger, and after Hasegawa balked in a run, DaVanon struck out.
''I felt comfortable with the bullpen's ability to shut them down,'' manager Mike Scioscia explained. ''We needed nine outs. We're trying to get outs at that point with a three-run lead. If you can upgrade the defense, you do it. I'd make that move again.''
Said Fullmer: ''I'm ready to play as long as they let me. But it's not up to me.''
Tim Salmon made his second error of the season Monday when he booted a ball in right field, allowing the tying run to score. He said the ball ''snaked'' in the grass as it rolled toward him, but it was no big deal because ''that's been happening here for years.''