SEATTLE -- Only half of the Angels' current eight-man bullpen was on the Opening Day roster. The closer, Huston Street, is on the disabled list for the second time. The setup man, Joe Smith, has been traded to the Cubs. And three of their most important relievers -- J.C. Ramirez, Deolis Guerra and Jose Valdez -- were designated for assignment earlier this season.
It has all equated to a volatile, unreliable bullpen for Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who hasn't been able to establish roles for any of his relievers. On Saturday, he watched Valdez and Guerra surrender four seventh-inning runs in an 8-6 loss to the Mariners, giving his relievers 16 earned runs over their last 20 innings.
"You kind of have to play the cards as you have them," Scioscia said. "It's always much easier if you develop roles, but if there aren't roles, you have to match up and try to put guys into situations where they can hopefully get outs and bring their stuff into the game. We're going to keep trying to do that."
Valdez was called up before the game, taking Tim Lincecum's spot after the two-time Cy Young Award winner was designated for assignment. Valdez, a 26-year-old right-hander with a firm fastball and a wipeout slider, was purchased from the Tigers on June 7, then gave up two earned runs and struck out 28 batters in 25 2/3 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake.
When he took the mound to begin the bottom of the seventh, Valdez represented the 25th different pitcher used by the Angels this season, already one more than they utilized all of last year.
He got Nelson Cruz to fly out, then he lost his release point and issued three straight walks to Adam Lind, Kyle Seager and Seth Smith. Guerra, who began the year with 24 1/3 consecutive innings without a walk, entered with the bases loaded and a two-run lead. He gave up a sacrifice fly to Leonys Martin, then the go-ahear, three-run homer to one-time Angels infielder Shawn O'Malley, on an 0-1, 90 mph fastball on the insider corner.
"If we can't establish roles, we at least have to get guys to come in in certain situations and match up," Scioscia said. "We're going to continue to work on that. We feel we have some good arms down there; we feel they can come into games and hopefully make pitches. We just had trouble doing that tonight."
Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.