SEATTLE – One standard when the Mariners were reeling off victories against everybody in sight was their starting rotation keeping them in games.
That just wasn’t the case here Friday night as Kevin Millwood needed 117 pitches to make it through five innings on a night the only target he consistently hit was the other team’s bats. By the time Millwood was pulled, this 9-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels in a homestand opener was all but settled and raised questions about whether this might have been his final outing for a while.
Rosters can be expanded beginning today, though the Mariners will wait until after the Triple-A season ends Monday before calling anybody up. At that point, Erasmo Ramirez – who pitched Thursday in Triple-A – could theoretically be added to the major league roster.
Millwood left with Seattle down 5-1 after five innings. Carter Capps gave up another run in the sixth and then Lucas Luetge yielded three more in the ninth, two on a homer by Bobby Wilson.
The Mariners looked like they might have a chance to get back in this one after Kendrys Morales hit a three-run homer off Millwood to put the Angels up 3-0 in the first inning. Angels starter Dan Haren gave an unearned run right back in a 28-pitch bottom of the first and demonstrated why he’s had so many problems in the second half.
But then, Haren settled in and had relatively few problems the rest of the night.
Haren actually looked like his old self in the latter portion of his seven-inning stint, retiring 13 in a row at one point, beginning with a double-play grounder by Franklin Gutierrez to end the third.
A crowd of 17,739 at Safeco Field saw the Mariners lose at home for the first time since Aug. 13 against Tampa Bay. Seattle had won eight in a row at home and 15 of the last 16 at this ballpark, but trailed 4-1 just two innings in.
Things went from bad to worse in the fourth inning when Michael Saunders appeared to reinjure his groin chasing a fly ball and left the game. No immediate word on his condition was available.
The homer by Morales was his 18th of the year and 10th since the All-Star break for an Angels club that has won eight of 10 overall as it fights to stay in the wild-card hunt. Seattle got a run back in the bottom of the first when John Jaso drove in Gutierrez.