The Angels faithful held their collective breath tonight with Joe Blanton on the mound to start the game after having his last start skipped due to the struggles he has been going through this season. As it turned out, it was when Garrett Richards entered the game in the tenth inning that fans should have kept the expelling of air to a minimum.
Joe Blanton has been easily the worst starter for the Angels so far in 2013. He showed some promise over a three start stretch in late May, but quickly reverted back to his old form when Jerome Williams was moved back to the bullpen with the return of Jered Weaver. But tonight, he looked like a pitcher that could be trusted. He tied his career high of 11 strikeouts and gave up only two runs in 6.2 innings.
The two runs he gave up both came in the second inning. And they both came courtesy of the long ball. Because that’s something that Blanton has been good for this year. Giving up home runs.
The first was a solo shot off of the bat of Raul Ibanez to lead off the second inning. The second one came one batter later when Justin Smoak parked one over the right field wall. Smoak’s home run was reviewed, but the play stood, and the Mariners had taken an early 2-0 lead.
Jeremy Bonderman needed only 11 pitches to get through the three hitter that he faced in the first inning, but his first pitch to Mark Trumbo in the second was crushed to deep left-center field. It was Mark’s 16th Trumbojack of the season, and his 47th RBI.
Outside of the occasional single, the one double and each one of Josh Hamilton‘s three GIDP, both the Angels and the Mariners bats went quiet after Trumbo’s home run. This, of course, is to be expected for the Mariners. The Angels, not so much. The quiet dragged on for both teams into the eighth inning, when finally, someone woke up.
With Tom Wilhelmson on the mound, Albert Pujols muscled a 97 MPH fastball into the bullpens in left field for his 12th home run of the season. Score tied. New ballgame. Momentum shifted. Well, everything but the momentum part is true.
Both teams went scoreless in the ninth inning. The Halos did threaten though. Erick Aybar led the inning off with a single, and that was followed up by a walk to Chris Iannetta. But then Peter Bourjos struck out, Mike Trout flied out and Josh Hamilton did the only thing that he does better than grounding into twin killings, he struck out.
A golden opportunity, wasted. And it would prove costly in the tenth when (with two outs mind you) Richards gave up a double to Kyle Seager. Kendrys Morales followed him to the plate with a base hit to left field off of a leaping Erick Aybar’s glove. The Angels got one more shot in the bottom of the tenth inning. But even with Pujols, Trumbo and Howie Kendrick coming up, they still went quietly, losing the game 3-2.
As Mike Scioscia would say, the Angels will “turn the page” on this one, and be back at it tomorrow night. C.J. Wilson will look to build on the gutsy start that he had against the Yankees this past weekend as he faces former Angel, Joe Saunders. Game time is at 7:05 PM PST. Light up the fail-o, the Angels are back in fourth place.