Angels fall, 8-2, are swept by Mariners

Angels fall, 8-2, are swept by Mariners
Josh Hamilton makes a running catch to get Seattle's Dustin Ackley during the eighth inning of the Angels' 8-2 loss to the Mariners. Hamilton struck out four times in four plate appearances. (Harry How / Getty Images)

Josh Hamilton nearly scolded a reporter for asking if, in light of the Angels' brutal Aprils of 2012 and 2013, there was concern that a "here-we-go-again" mentality could creep into the clubhouse with another sluggish start.

"We haven't thought about that, so stop thinking about it," the Angels left fielder 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."


Getting their feel? Getting settled in? If the Angels needed time to acclimate to the regular season, just what was that little six-week exercise in Arizona known as spring training for?

The bright lights went on this week, and the Angels, who killed their playoff opportunities by having a combined 17-32 record in April the previous two years, were clearly not ready for prime time.

They lost to the Seattle Mariners, 8-2, in Angel Stadium on Wednesday night to fall to 0-3, marking the first time since 1992 against the Chicago White Sox that they were swept in a three-game series to open a season.

The Angels were outscored, 26-8, by the Mariners and went one for 19 with runners in scoring position. They struck out nine times Wednesday against James Paxton, a 25-year-old left-hander who gave up two hits in seven scoreless innings of his fifth big league start. Hamilton struck out four times in the game.

The top three pitchers in the rotation — Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago — gave up 13 earned runs and 21 hits in 17 innings for a 6.88 earned-run average. A bullpen that was supposed to be deeper and more effective was a mess, giving up 12 earned runs and five home runs in 10 innings.

Fernando Salas, who saved 24 games for the World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, replaced Santiago in the sixth inning with two on, no outs and the Mariners ahead, 2-0.

Three pitches later, the Mariners had a 6-0 lead, as Stefen Romero slammed a run-scoring double into the left-field corner and Mike Zunino drove a three-run home run to left-center field.

And remember, this was supposedly the soft part of the April schedule, which begins with 12 games against the Mariners, Houston Astros and New York Mets, who had sub-.500 records last season.

They close the month with 15 games against defending American League West-champion Oakland, defending AL-Central champion Detroit, National League East-favorite Washington, the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians, who made the playoffs last season.

"Nothing went right for us this series," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "You'd like to carry confidence forward as the season builds, but there wasn't anything to really point to. It's obvious what's not working with our club.

"You want to start seeing some positive things, especially in the early innings, to where you start to build momentum and confidence and set up games to where you're holding leads. We didn't do it at all this series."

The Angels took several measures in an effort to avoid another slow start, hiring a nutritionist, monitoring off-season workouts more closely, putting their pitchers on far more aggressive spring throwing programs and playing their regulars in longer blocks of exhibition games.

That worked great … in spring training. The Angels were 19-11 in exhibition games, the second-best record in the AL, and they ranked second in the league in batting (.288) and third in ERA (3.49).


That Angels team apparently got lost between Tempe, Ariz., and Anaheim.

"On the mound, we were 180 degrees from where we were all spring leading up to this," Scioscia said. "Where we can make adjustments, we'll certainly look to make adjustments. Where we have to show patience, we'll show patience. I feel this team is too good not to learn from this experience and get better."

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna