Angels' Josh Hamilton tosses his bat after striking out in the seventh… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
Just when it seemed Josh Hamilton's dismal season couldn't get any worse, the Angels right fielder grounded into three double plays and struck out twice Tuesday night in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Seattle Mariners in Angel Stadium.
Hamilton, the former Texas Rangers star who signed a five-year, $125-million deal in December, is batting .213 with 10 home runs, 24 runs batted in and 73 strikeouts after becoming the fourth Angels player to ground into three double plays in a game.
“It's been tough,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “I don't think anyone feels this more than Josh, and I don't think there's anyone more confident in his ability than Josh. He's been working very hard in drills, hopefully making strides and getting there. He takes his lack of production very hard, very seriously.”
The Angels had an excellent chance to win — and ease Hamilton's pain — in the ninth inning when Erick Aybar led off with a single against reliever Tom Wilhelmsen and took second base on a wild pitch, and Chris Iannetta walked.
Peter Bourjos, after taking a strike and fouling off a bunt, struck out looking at a 78-mph curveball, and Mike Trout flied out. Manager Eric Wedge summoned left-hander Charlie Furbush to face Hamilton, who struck out on a 2-and-2 curveball.
The Mariners then rallied against reliever Garrett Richards in the 10th inning, Kyle Seager hitting a two-out double to right field and scoring on Kendrys Morales' line drive off the glove of the leaping Aybar at shortstop, dropping the Angels to 10-16 in one-run games.
Unlike Hamilton, Angels starter Joe Blanton, who began the game with a major league-high 10 losses and 111 hits given up, and an American League-high 5.87 earned-run average, took a big step forward.
Skipped in the weekend rotation because of his season-long struggles, Blanton solidified his spot with one of his best games of the year, limiting Seattle to two runs and six hits in 62/3 innings and tying a career high with 11 strikeouts.
The Angels, who amassed a season-high 21 hits in Monday night's 11-3 victory, managed only six hits and one run — on Mark Trumbo's team-leading 16th home run to lead off the second — against starter Jeremy Bonderman.
But Albert Pujols, who hit .522 (12 for 23) in his previous five games, led off the eighth with a home run to left — his 12th this season and 487th of his career — against Wilhelmsen to tie the score, 2-2.
Until then, it had been a frustration-filled evening for the Angels, especially Hamilton, who assured that the Angels, who entered having grounded into a major league-high 72 double plays, would retain top billing in that department.
Hamilton followed leadoff singles by Trout in the first and third innings with hard-hit double-play grounders. With two on and one out in the fifth, he grounded into a 3-6-1 double play. His strikeouts in the seventh and ninth were greeted with loud boos.
There were also boos when Blanton gave up home runs to Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak to open the second, but Blanton quickly morphed into a highly competent big league pitcher, blanking the Mariners on three hits over the next 42/3 innings innings.
After striking out Endy Chavez with his 118th pitch for the second out of the seventh, Blanton was pulled and received a nice ovation as he walked to the dugout.