Four years ago here, Brendan Ryan played a large part in perhaps the most memorable game of his baseball life, when he manned shortstop and scored the only run during Felix Hernandez's perfect game.
It was a Wednesday afternoon in August at Safeco Field. On another afternoon at the same place, Sunday, Ryan will likely face Hernandez for the first time in his nine-year career. In his Los Angeles home, Ryan has three signed jerseys framed on his wall: Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter and Hernandez — alongside ticket stubs from the perfect game, and the day's lineup card signed by his teammates.
"You remember your first day. You remember your first homer," the new Angels shortstop said Saturday, after recounting much of the game's play by play. "But a perfect game? That's history. Nobody else remembers my homer off Lenny DiNardo."
Ryan, 34, spent three years in Seattle, most of the time as the Mariners' starting shortstop. He became close with Hernandez, he said. Whenever he threw two or three perfect innings to begin a game, he'd tease him about it: Can you do it?
That day, Ryan said, he did no teasing. He singled, stole second and came around to score, and fielded five balls in the field.
"I remember trying to calm myself down and relax and not come off anxious," Ryan said. "It's like, either you get the bunt down, or you screw it up. And you don't want to screw it up. Really, all you're doing is letting the moment impact everything."
Earlier that season, Ryan made the final, controversial out in Philip Humber's perfect game against the Mariners, also at Safeco Field. Pinch-hitting, Ryan checked his swing on a 3-and-2 pitch outside the strike zone, but it was ruled he swung. He argued with home-plate umpire Brian Runge while Humber and his Chicago White Sox teammates celebrated the achievement.
The next perfect game, the 23rd in baseball history and still the last, is a happier memory.
Acquired on Tuesday in response to Andrelton Simmons' thumb injury, Ryan has not yet recorded a hit in seven plate appearances as an Angel.
"I gotta get a hit off him, and talk some trash off first," Ryan said. "And I will. I will."
Third baseman Yunel Escobar returned to the Angels lineup Saturday after missing one game with a jammed thumb. …. The Mariners held Kyle Seager bobblehead night Saturday. Eight months ago, Seager and Angels right-hander Jered Weaver engaged in an on-field confrontation over Seager's tendency to delay at-bats. Weaver was ejected. They have not matched up since. … Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said left-hander Tyler Skaggs has not yet resumed throwing. The 24-year-old, recovering from Tommy John surgery, last threw for triple-A Salt Lake on April 20. He has felt discomfort in his back and shoulder since and remains in Arizona, at the Angels' spring-training facility.