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.
Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.
OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.
It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.