Haren frustrated by short outing against Mariners

Haren frustrated by short outing against Mariners

Haren frustrated by short outing against Mariners
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have five All-Stars in their rotation, but only one is pitching like one lately.

And unfortunately for them, Jered Weaver's turn isn't until Sunday.

On Saturday, Dan Haren took the bump and added to the staff's recent shortcomings, allowing seven runs (five earned) and lasting only 3 1/3 innings against a Mariners offense that is statistically the worst in the American League. That led to a 7-4 defeat, which gave the Angels their seventh loss in the past 10 games and dropped them once again in the AL West standings -- 1 1/2 back of the Athletics and seven behind the Rangers.

Together, Haren, Zack Greinke, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana have appeared in seven All-Star Games and are making $47.45 million this season.

Together, that quartet has provided two quality starts this month.

"Jered's been the one consistent one," Haren said of the 15-1 Cy Young favorite. "I don't know where we'd be without him. But he can't pitch every game. We have to hold up our end."

But the rest of this star-studded rotation hasn't, especially lately. They haven't been pitching deep into games, they haven't provided much relief for a reeling bullpen and, a lot of the time, they haven't left games in manageable terms.

The Angels are now 3-7 in August. In the nine games not started by Weaver this month, the starters sport a collective 6.88 ERA and have pitched through the seventh just once. Since the start of July, the Angels' rotation has gone from an AL-leading 3.66 ERA to a 4.09 mark, which is nowhere near the top.

"The ingredients are still there for us to reach our goal, but we're at a point now where you need production," manager Mike Scioscia said.

Haren believes the starters are trying to "put the burden on their shoulders" to step up and ultimately are placing too much pressure on themselves. He includes himself in that group.

"I take it hard," Haren said. "I try not to worry about what other guys are doing. I just go out there and root for everybody, especially starting pitchers, but I have to hold up my end of the deal. This year I really haven't. Some is related to not being 100-percent healthy."

A stiff lower back in early July forced Haren to go on the disabled list for the first time in his career, but he said Saturday that he "felt as good today as I had all year" and reiterated that the back isn't a problem.

Asked about possible lingering back issues for Haren, Scioscia replied: "He says none."

Haren had pitched a lot better in his first three starts since coming off the DL, posting a 2.00 ERA while pitching six innings each time. But he could never get right against a Mariners team that came in losing five straight while ranking 14th out of 14 in the AL in runs and OPS.

Against the same team he shutout on May 24, Haren hardly got into counts when he could throw his cutter. He couldn't locate his fastball, he couldn't change speeds effectively, he didn't strike anybody out and ultimately he couldn't finish the fourth inning, ending up with his shortest start since Sept 9, 2003 -- his rookie year.

"My first inning went well; I felt great in the bullpen," Haren said. "I don't really know what happened."

The Mariners got three runs on three hits and two walks in a second inning that saw Haren utilize 31 pitches. In the third, they made it a four-run game on a homer by John Jaso, making it nine straight starts in which Haren has allowed a homer. In the fourth, they ended Haren's day, putting the first two runners on, scoring on a sacrifice fly and an Albert Pujols error -- one of three by the Angels -- and then making it a 7-0 game on Jaso's RBI single off Jerome Williams.

That was enough for Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma to coast -- and for the Angels to keep scratching their collective heads about this underachieving rotation.

"I really didn't see it coming," said Haren, now 8-9 with a 4.68 ERA. "I had a couple of good games, I had a good week of work coming into the game, and it just didn't work out. I just have to do my best to put it behind me and not let it linger."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.