Angels again come up short in extra innings

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Norichika Aoki No.8 of the the Seattle Mariners runs to first base on a sacrifice bunt while Carlos Perez No.58 of the the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws him out during the tenth inning of a baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Saturday in Anaheim, California. AFP PHOTO

Norichika Aoki No.8 of the the Seattle Mariners runs to first base on a sacrifice bunt while Carlos Perez No.58 of the the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws him out during the tenth inning of a baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Saturday in Anaheim, California. AFP PHOTO

ANAHEIM: Playing extra innings for the second time in six days, the Angels fell to the Seattle Mariners, 5-2, in the 10th inning Friday night (Saturday in Manila).

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The Mariners took the lead in the top of the 10th when Franklin Gutierrez hit a pinch-hit, RBI single that rolled up the middle off left-handed reliever Jose Alvarez. Two batters later, Nelson Cruz added a two-run home run as the ball fell over the shortest part of the stands in left field.

The Angels lost in the 12th inning Sunday to the Minnesota Twins.

Before extras on Friday night, they nearly won it in the bottom of the ninth on a walkoff home run bid by Albert Pujols that fell short at the warning track, just in front of the 396-foot sign in center field. It was hit hard and deep enough that most of the 40,755 at Angel Stadium jumped to their feet before sighing as it fell into the glove of Seattle’s Leonys Martin.

Early on, the Angels trailed 2-0, struggling to muster much production at the plate.

Through 17 games, they have scored 49 runs, the fewest in the American League.

“Our offense is better than this,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

The bats awoke in the fourth inning when Kole Calhoun hit a first-pitch curveball to right field, his second homer of the season and a solo blast that cut the 2-0 deficit in half

Two at-bats later, C.J. Cron led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run of his own to tie score. The towering shot traveled 426 feet and landed in the shrubbery in the deepest part of center field.

It was an abrupt change.

Entering the game, the Angels had hit seven home runs, the fewest in the American League and second fewest throughout the majors. Only the Atlanta Braves, with three, had hit fewer.

Cron had especially struggled to hit the long ball. He hadn’t yet homered before Friday night after hitting 16 in 2015. And he had just one extra-base hit this season.

Otherwise, the offense struggled. They were 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position and left three runners on base. Pujols twice grounded into a double play.

Pujols, who was in the lineup at designated hitter, saw his batting average drop to .138 after going 0-for-4. He is hitless in 23 at-bats dating to a first-inning home run Sunday against the Twins in Minneapolis.

“It’s about team chemistry,” Pujols said. “It’s not about myself. It’s about winning games.”

Nick Tropeano, making his third start of the season for the Angels, threw 26 pitches in the first inning and looked dicey. Four Mariners batters reached base and two of them scored.

“His count was getting away from him,” Scioscia said. “He wasn’t pitch efficient.”

But he recovered. The right-hander settled in, did not allow another run and pitched into the sixth inning.

Tropeano was called up a week into the season to replace Andrew Heaney, who was sent to the disabled list with forearm tightness, and has been effective. In his three starts, he’s pitched a total of 16 innings and surrendered three runs. Dating to September, spanning a total of seven starts, he has a 2.21 ERA.

He left with a no-decision Friday. Alvarez was given the loss.

Tropeano saw most of his problems in the first inning when he struggled with command, walking two batters and twice throwing the ball in the dirt.

Norichika Aoki led off, hitting a second-pitch fastball down the right-field line that nearly cleared the wall for a double. Seth Smith walked and Robinson Cano singled to load the bases before a pair of sacrifice flies each brought in a run.

TNS

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