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Angels' bullpen falters again in 5-3 loss to Mariners

This time is Hisanori Takahashi who gives up a two-run home run to Mike Carp in the eighth inning. The Angels fall to 31/2 games behind first-place Texas in the American League West.

August 29, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels relief pitcher Hisanori Takahashi adjusts his cap after giving up a two-run home run to Mariners first baseman Mike Carp in the eighth inning Monday night at Safeco Field.
Angels relief pitcher Hisanori Takahashi adjusts his cap after giving… (Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images )

Reporting from Seattle -- Only three teams in baseball have gotten fewer innings out of their bullpen than the Angels this season. And that's only partly because of a lack of opportunity.

The main culprit is a lack of confidence in some of the team's relievers, a depth problem that came back to bite the Angels again Monday in a 5-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

This time it was left-hander Hisanori Takahashi who failed to deliver, giving up a tiebreaking eighth-inning home run to Mike Carp that pushed the second-place Angels half a game further back of idle Texas in the American League West.

"We've had some growing pains in the bullpen," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've had some guys who have not pitched maybe to the level you would expect."

Which may explain why no team in the AL has blown more save opportunities than the Angels. And only one team has lost more games in the bullpen.

Once again the Angels were tripped up trying to cross the bridge linking a quality start to their closer.

After Joel Pineiro held the Mariners to three runs over six innings, Scioscia turned to Takahashi, who retired the Mariners on nine pitches in the seventh inning. But with Scott Downs warming up in the bullpen in the eighth, Scioscia sent Takahashi back to the mound, where he gave up a double to Dustin Ackley and Carp's two-run home run before getting an out.

"It's one of those nights that got away from us," Scioscia said. "We've had some guys who, at times, have pitched very well bridging that gap. And at times we've had some guys who have been a little inconsistent."

Pineiro, rusty after going eight days between starts, fell behind, 1-0, after eight pitches when Ichiro Suzuki led off the first inning with a double and scored on Ackley's sacrifice fly.

Miguel Olivo doubled to start the second inning, then scored on a Kyle Seager fly ball to make it 2-0 before Pineiro settled in, retiring eight of the next 10 Mariners.

"He gave us a chance to win," Scioscia said of Pineiro, who briefly lost his spot in the rotation earlier this month. "There's no doubt that he's made strides. And hopefully he's going to continue because we're going to need him."

The Angels rallied back with a three-run fourth inning keyed by Mark Trumbo's 24th home run. It was Trumbo's fifth home run against the Mariners this season and the Angels' 19th in their last 20 games.

Erick Aybar added a run in the inning when he doubled home Vernon Wells, but that was all the Angels would get against rookie right-hander Blake Beavan and two relievers.

That allowed the Mariners to come back to tie the score in the fifth with Suzuki doubling with one out, then scoring an out later on Ackley's triple to right field.

The game eventually became a battle of the bullpens, and that was a battle the Angels lost once again.

"You want to create more depth," Scioscia said. "And we're hopeful we still will create more depth as we move on and there's going to be some guys that are down there that are starting to throw the ball better."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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