SEATTLE – The gem Dan Haren tossed Thursday night looked awfully familiar to Albert Pujols. Except this time instead of Pujols getting fooled by what Haren was tossing, he was helping the Los Angeles Angels’ right-hander put together one of the finest efforts of his career.
“He makes good hitters look pretty bad including myself, he has in the past,” Pujols said. “He is pretty amazing when he keeps the ball down.”
Pujols had three hits, including his 450th career home run, and Haren struck out a career-high 14 to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-0 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
The Angels and Mariners met for the first of 19 games this season and Pujols, a newcomer to the A.L. West rivalry, made his presence known immediately. He lined a two-run shot off Seattle starter Jason Vargas (5-4) with one out in the top of the first, and added line-drive singles in the fourth and sixth innings. It was just his third three-hit game this season.
Those three runs proved to be plenty for Haren (2-5), who tossed the sixth shutout and 16th complete game of his career. He allowed four hits and one Seattle baserunner to reach third base.
Haren matched his career high of 12 strikeouts when he got Michael Saunders looking to end the eighth inning. He was given the chance at the complete-game despite starting the ninth at 110 pitches. He struck out Alex Liddi for the fourth time, got Ichiro Suzuki swinging, and closed it out by getting Kyle Seager to ground out.
The 32-year-old Pujols is the fourth-youngest player in baseball history to reach 450 homers, behind Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., and Jimmie Foxx.
Haren picked up his 11th career win against Seattle and made it look easy for most of the night as Seattle failed to get a baserunner between the second and sixth innings.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge was not pleased with how easy Haren made it look.
“We didn’t make him make any adjustments. He just kept doing the same thing throughout the course of the game. That just can’t happen,” Wedge said.
Seattle activated C Miguel Olivo from the 15-day DL and optioned OF Casper Wells to Triple-A Tacoma.