In one corner of the Angels clubhouse Tuesday night there was at least some sense of urgency after an 8-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners dropped the club to 0-2 on the season. The Angels, remember, killed their playoff hopes by going 17-32 in the previous two Aprils.
“We’re not in spring training anymore -- these are real games,” pitcher C.J. Wilson said after allowing six runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. “We need to put our best foot forward every night and try to win games. When we don’t do that, we don’t sleep well.”
In another corner of the room, there was calm, with one player saying there is no concern that a “here we go again” mentality could be creeping into the team.
“We haven’t thought about that, so stop thinking about it,” left fielder Josh Hamilton said. “Talk to me in a like a week and a half. Guys are getting their feel, getting settled in, not only here but at home. We’ll be good.”
The Angels have not been good in their first two games, getting outscored 18-6, going one for 13 with runners in scoring position, failing to advance runners on the bases, throwing too many fat pitches with runners on base and making physical and mental errors.
Tuesday night, with the Angels trailing by three runs and rallying in the eighth, David Freese got picked off first base by Seattle reliever Joe Beimel to end the inning.
“We know Beimel has a good move, and Alfredo told David he has a good move,” Manager Mike Scioscia said, referring to first-base coach Alfredo Griffin. “He showed him his A move and picked him off. That wasn’t the play we’re looking for there.”
The Angels took several measures in spring training to avoid another slow start, and they seemed to work -- they had a 19-10 record in exhibition games and played excellent all-around baseball, from offense, to defense, to starting and relief pitching and situational hitting.
“But over the past couple of springs, what I’ve learned is, if you have a hot spring training or a slow spring training, it’s a different animal when the season starts and you get under the lights,” catcher Hank Conger said.
Scioscia remains confident in his offense and stressed the need to “continue to focus on the process of throwing the ball with better command and controlling counts,” he said. “As we do that on a consistent basis, you’ll see us put up wins.
“I don’t think anyone has their head buried in the sand. We know how important it is to get off to a good start, but you have to play free, you have to play aggressive baseball, make your pitches, make your plays, and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”