It was a lousy way for Scott Downs’ scoreless streak to end.
The Angels and Mariners were tied at one headed to the bottom of the ninth after Dan Haren and Doug Fister dueled to a stalemate for right innings.
After David Pauley worked a scoreless top of the ninth for Seattle, the bottom of the inning with Jack Cust’s accidental swinging bunt single down the third-base line with the shift on. After a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, Carlos Peguero hit a routine fly to center that Torii Hunter lost in the sun, giving the Mariners the game.
The loss was the Angels’ fifth in a row and dropped them under .500 to 22-23 on the season.
Hunter was making his first start of the year in center in place of Peter Bourjos. He made a terrific running catch at the wall in the seventh, robbing Peguero of a double.
The unlucky run against Downs was the first he’s given up in 12 appearances this season.
Haren, though, is the truly unfortunate one. He’s 0-2 with a 2.33 ERA over his last six starts. Twice during that stretch, Fernando Rodney has blown leads in relief of him.
Fister can sympathize. His record held at 2-4 as he lowered his ERA to 2.93.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉