Mariner Manager Lou Piniella watched the Angels all spring, and to be truthful, he was thinking the same as everyone else in baseball.
"Let's face it," he said, "they looked like they were in for a long season. . . . But my God, these guys are for real."
Well, before Piniella gets carried away, the Angels proved again Monday in their 4-3, 14-inning defeat against Seattle that little has changed about their bullpen.
The Angels blew yet another eighth-inning lead, and they lost in the 14th when Omar Vizquel's one-out single off reliever Chuck Crim (2-2) scored Tino Martinez from second with the game-winning run.
The Angels survived bases-loaded situations in the 10th and 12th innings, but it all went for naught. The game dragged on so long that every position player on both teams--except Angel third baseman Rene Gonzales--played, with 12 pitchers being used.
It even lasted long enough for Angel catcher Ron Tingley to get his first plate appearance of the season, the last player on an opening-day roster to do so.
It was the Angels' longest game since Sept. 2, 1992 when they beat the Cleveland Indians, 3-2, in 15 innings at Anaheim Stadium.
The Angels were cruising with a 3-1 lead when starting pitcher Mark Langston's right hamstring began to tighten in the eighth.
Rich Amaral had led off the inning with a single, and Ken Griffey followed with a single to left field. The Angels convened on the mound with trainer Ned Bergert, and Langston immediately left the game.
Joe Grahe was summoned to shut the door, but instead loaded the bases by walking Edgar Martinez and then yielded a sacrifice fly to Jay Buhner.
After intentionally walking left-handed pinch-hitter Pete O'Brien, Grahe was removed for left-handed reliever Steve Frey.
Frey struck out pinch-hitter Bill Haselman. Needing only one more out to get out of the mess, Frey got ahead of Tino Martinez, 1 and 2, but then walked him.
Gene Nelson was the next to try his luck, and he managed to snuff out further trouble by inducing pinch-hitter Mike Felder to hit a fly-ball out.
Still, the the Angels' bullpen had blown a victory for Langston for the third time this season.
It also wasted the Angels' rare offensive display against Mariner starter Erik Hanson, who entered the game with a league-low 1.60 earned-run average. They knocked Hanson out of the game after seven innings with nine hits and three runs.
The barrage included a solo homer by Chad Curtis in the fifth inning, his first since Sept. 16, 1992, spanning 220 at-bats, and the Angels' first in 36 innings at the Kingdome.
Yet, the game didn't become really crazy until the ninth inning, when Tingley was sent into the game to pinch-run for Chili Davis. While Davis was pondering the embarrassment, Tingley stole second, matching the stolen base total of his career.
The Angel lineup was a bit strange, anyway, with Gonzales being given the night off and Luis Polonia used as the designated hitter instead of in left field.
Manager Buck Rodgers simply wanted to rest his players on the artificial turf, he said. The only constant in the infield shuffle, Rodgers said, is that Gary Gaetti will not be involved.
Angel vice president Dan O'Brien confirmed Monday that the club is considering releasing Gaetti in two weeks when third baseman Kelly Gruber is scheduled to be activated. Although no decision has been made, O'Brien said that owner Gene Autry apparently is willing to swallow the $4.5 million that remains on Gaetti's four-year, $11-million contract.