Rare bullpen hiccup leads to loss to Angels

Rare bullpen hiccup leads to loss to Angels

ANAHEIM -- They've been the backbone of the Mariners' August hot streak, the bullpen group keeping things together even while the rotation has undergone a churn of change. But on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium, that formula got flipped as Seattle saw its momentum stymied for a night in a 7-6 loss to their American League West rivals.

The Halos launched three home runs in their final three innings off relievers Nick Vincent and Arquimedes Caminero, then finished things off with a go-ahead RBI triple by Cliff Pennington as Seattle suffered just its third loss in 14 games.

There'd been a growing sense of invincibility with this group of relievers since flame-throwing rookie Edwin Diaz took over the closing role and Caminero -- who fires his own 100-mph heat -- was acquired by trade. The bullpen had an MLB-leading 1.25 ERA while holding opponents to a .185 batting average over the previous 14 games.

But there's no such thing as being unbeatable in baseball and Caminero -- who had allowed just three hits and no runs in his first six innings with the club -- knows that as well as anyone.

"It's a battle," Caminero said after taking the loss by allowing two runs on three hits in the eighth. "I'm not going to win all the time. It happens."

The irony is that Caminero appeared ready to protect a 6-5 lead when he opened the eighth by striking out Mike Trout and getting Albert Pujols to pop out to Robinson Cano. But Jefry Marte tied the game with a rocket to left, Jett Bandy singled and then scored the game-winning run when Pennington tripled into the right-field corner.

"I just missed a few pitches and Marte got a fastball right down the middle and he took advantage of it," Caminero said. "That's going to happen. It's baseball."

The Mariners just hadn't seen it happen before to Caminero, who was acquired from the Pirates on Aug. 6 and appeared in six of the team's eight games since in impressive fashion.

"Caminero has been awesome since he's been here," manager Scott Servais said. "He gets through Trout and Pujols and I don't think he let up or anything, you have to give Marte credit. He turned around a 98-99 mph fastball and it got away from us with the single and [triple]. It was a tough loss. We'd been playing good baseball and our bullpen has been outstanding. We just didn't get it done tonight."

Things also came undone for Vincent, who came on in the sixth with a 4-1 lead after starter Ariel Miranda walked Kole Calhoun and Trout to open the frame. But Vincent left a 1-2 fastball over the plate to Pujols and the game was quickly tied, and then untied when Bandy followed with a solo shot off the left-field foul pole.

"Tonight I just couldn't locate my fastball down and away at all," said Vincent. "I tried to make an adjustment when I got back to Bandy, but I still couldn't. I just tried to move over to the other side of the rubber. That was the only way I could get a fastball down and away.

"I talked to [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] and I just need to look at video and nip it in the bud right away because tonight was a very off night for myself with that fastball down and away. Usually I can do that pretty well, but tonight it was non-existent. It was just bad pitches. There were a lot of bad pitches that whole inning, I got away with a lot, but I didn't get away with a lot. I've got to be better than that."

Vincent was making his fifth appearance since coming off the DL with a lower back strain, but he'd allowed just three hits and no runs with no walks and four strikeouts in his first four outings, including one in a save situation. There was no salvaging this one, however, and Vincent said he couldn't wait to get back to work on Wednesday and figure out what went wrong.

"We're going to have a bad night here or there," said the 30-year-old veteran, "but hopefully we bounce back and keep it rolling."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.