Bumbling first inning paves way for Angels
SEATTLE – It took Doug Fister a few pitches to find his rhythm Tuesday night, and after that – game over.
The bigger problem for the Seattle Mariners’ right-hander was that the defense behind him took just as long. By the time either could pull themselves together – Fister and a sloppy Mariners effort in the field in the first inning – the Los Angeles Angels scored all the runs they would need in a 4-0 victory at Safeco Field.
Not that the Mariners’ first-inning flubs would have made any difference considering how Jered Weaver pitched for the Angels.
He didn’t allow a hit until Mike Carp’s leadoff single in the third inning and pitched with only two Mariners in scoring position all night – Carp on third after Ichiro Suzuki’s two-out single in the third and Ichiro after his leadoff double in the ninth.
Weaver, 8-4 with a 2.06 ERA, finished with a five-hitter in his third complete game this season.
“I went 0-for-4. I would have gone 0-for-20,” Mariners second baseman Adam Kennedy said. “He has deception, command and, oh, three or four great pitches.”
That combination, along with the four-run first inning, gave the Angels the 4,000th victory in franchise history.
The Mariners made two errors in a 6-3 loss in the series opener Monday and they made an error – by Ichiro on a first-inning misplay – Tuesday. They also botched a rundown and failed to turn a double play.
“We’ve got to execute,” manager Eric Wedge said. “The last couple of days, we’ve made some mistakes and you see what happens.”
In addition, Fister left some pitches up in the strike zone that the Angels clubbed for five of their seven hits against him, and third-base umpire Chad Fairchild added to the grief when he ruled Peter Bourjos’ RBI double down the right-field line a fair ball despite TV replays that showed the ball landing in foul territory by inches.
“Wakeup call, I guess,” Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “Not the way you want to start the game.”
The key misplay occurred after Fister allowed a leadoff double to Erick Aybar and a single to the next hitter, Torii Hunter. Left fielder Carp made a strong throw in an effort to get Aybar at the plate, but third baseman Chone Figgins cut off the ball.
That allowed Aybar to score as Figgins caught Hunter in a rundown when he threw to first baseman Justin Smoak. However, Smoak threw too soon to second and Hunter was able to retreat safely back to first.
Smoak’s play aside, it appeared Carp’s throw had a chance to get Aybar at the plate had Figgins not cut it off. Wedge didn’t fault Figgins, though.
“You’ve got a chance to have one run in and get an out there with nobody on the bases, but we just didn’t execute the rundown,” Wedge said. “Early in the ballgame that’s fine … taking the out there and really controlling the damage. Obviously you saw what the flip side of that was. If we control the damage right there, it’s very feasible to believe that it’s one run and it’s a whole different ballgame.”
Instead, the Angels batted around in the first and scored all four of their runs.
Fister recovered, allowing only two fourth-inning singles and holding the Angels without any more runs through seven innings.
“I don’t really know what clicked,” said Fister, who’s 3-8 with a 3.53 earned run average and, after this game, a league-low run support average of 2.19.
“It was a matter of saying I’m going to make them hit it, keep hitting it on the ground and using my defense.”
The Mariners have lost eight of their past 12 games and are in danger of being swept in a series for the first time since three losses May 10-12 at Baltimore.
Box score: See B6
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