Little mistakes add up to huge missed chance

Little mistakes add up to huge missed chance

Little mistakes add up to huge missed chance
ANAHEIM -- Time is ticking on the Angels' season and their hopes of sneaking into the playoffs. Down to the final week, all they can control is winning while hoping for a little help along the way.

On Thursday, only one of those two things happened. With a chance to move a game back of a playoff spot, the Angels were downed, 9-4, by the AL West-worst Mariners.

Thanks to the loss, the Angels remained two games behind the Athletics, who lost, 9-7, earlier in the day to the Rangers. Thursday was the last home game of the season for the Angels and only six games remain on the schedule with both the Angels and A's playing three apiece against the Rangers and Mariners.

"We have no idea if we are going to play another home game here," said Torii Hunter, who is a free agent after the season. "We just have to go out there and play good baseball. Hopefully, Oakland loses about three games. We've got to hope for the best. That is what we are going to continue to do."

The missed opportunity to move up a game in the race came as a result of a day full of smaller squandered chances. The Angels left eight runners on base and had a man on second stranded in the first, second, fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth innings.

In the end, the team's four runs weren't enough thanks to sloppy defense and a poor outing by the bullpen. Starter Dan Haren gave up three runs (two earned) in 5 1/3 innings, but the Angels' 'pen took over and gave up six (five earned).

"We know what we are up against," said Haren, who left after striking out the leadoff man in the sixth. "Hopefully, we can play well tomorrow and put a little pressure on Oakland. This loss hurts, but we've got to shrug it off.

"If it weren't for two stretches in the season, we'd probably end up with 95 wins or something. Unfortunately we dug ourselves a couple holes and we're not sure if we'll be able to get out."

The Angels struck first when Vernon Wells hit an RBI single that scored Erick Aybar in the second, but they didn't remain on top long as Haren gave up a two-out, two-run homer to John Jaso in the fourth.

The Halos tied it when Kendrys Morales led off the bottom of the fourth with a double that was followed by an RBI single by Alberto Callaspo.

However, the Mariners regained the lead in the fifth against Haren (12-12) after Casper Wells scored on a Franklin Gutierrez fielder's choice. The Angels had a chance to turn a double play on the grounder, albeit a difficult one, when Callaspo made a diving grab and got the runner out at second. However, Howie Kendrick's throw to first was off the mark as Gutierrez raced up the first-base line to allow Wells to score.

Haren should have been out of the inning when he got the previous batter, Dustin Ackley, to ground out to first, but Morales' throw to second sailed just wide enough to bounce off of the glove of Aybar, who was charged with an error.

"We didn't play well enough to win," manager Mike Scioscia said. "On the defensive side, we cracked some things open for them. Offensively, it took us a while to get going. On the mound, we didnt' make some pitches when we had to. Bottom line is, we lost a baseball game."

Clinging to a one-run lead, the Mariners plated four runs in the seventh against Nick Maronde and Garrett Richards. The first run came on a bases-loaded walk with one out to Trayvon Robinson, followed by a sacrifice fly by Jesus Montero and a two-run double by Jaso.

The Angels got a couple back in the eighth on a two-run double by Kendrick, but the Mariners would score two more runs in the ninth thanks to a throwing error by LaTroy Hawkins on a sacrifice bunt and a double by Montero.

"We like winning no matter what," Jaso said. "It doesn't matter what uniform is on the other side. I don't really want to get recognized as spoilers. We're just a team that is working to finish strong and take it into next year."

With Seattle taking on Oakland next, the Angels are hopeful the Mariners have a few more games like Thursday's left in the tank over the weekend while they hit the road for the last six.

"They know the fine line we have to ride to put ourselves in position," Scioscia said. "We lost an opportunity this afternoon. You've got to go out and win tomorrow and hopefully get an opportunity again.

"We're going to play wherever we have to play. If we have to go play out on the moon, you're going to go play and hopefully bring a win."

Alex Angert is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.