Harang can't contain Angels; Mariners stay quiet
After Ackley's homer, Seattle manages just two runs in series
SEATTLE -- The search for Seattle's offense continued on Sunday, as the club scored just its second run of the series while being swept by the Angels. Starter Aaron Harang had moments of brilliance, but he was unable to seal the deal, allowing seven two-out runs in the Mariners' 7-1 loss to the Angels in front of 22,999 fans at Safeco Field.
"All the runs came with two outs and nobody on in both those innings," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's a veteran guy, he has to be able to shut that down, get that final out ... In both those situations, he was in a position with one pitch to get through the inning. Just that domino has been a problem of his."
Seattle had one of the most potent offenses in the Majors in July, but it has struggled mightily in August. Since Wedge returned from a month-long absence on Friday, the team has been shut out once and scored a single run twice. Wedge took time off from the team after suffering a mild stroke in late July.
Harang was practically unhittable his first two times through the Angels' lineup, striking out five batters and allowing no runs in the first three innings. But the Angels pelted him for four runs in the fourth inning and tacked on three more in the sixth.
"They started to be aggressive and swing at first pitches; I was throwing first-pitch strikes early in the game," Harang said. "They were getting behind and I was getting them to chase pitches. When it flipped over the second time, they were swinging early and trying to make something happen. Obviously, it worked."
The righty finished the day having struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings, while allowing seven runs. Harang was coming off a strong start against Oakland, which he credited to mechanical adjustments he made to his windup after working with pitching coach Carl Willis. Harang is now 0-4 against the Angels in his career.
Jered Weaver kept the Mariners batters guessing all afternoon on the way to a three-hitter over eight innings. The win ended a four-game losing streak for Weaver at Safeco Field. He fanned eight batters, while allowing just one run.
That came courtesy of Dustin Ackley, who hit his first Major League home run since May 4 to put the Mariners up, 1-0, in the third inning. The center fielder added a double in the eighth.
"I think this is how it used to feel, to be honest," Ackley said. "Just getting up there, expecting to barrel the ball no matter where it's pitched. I think that's the hitter that I believe I was, and I'm believing right now so I think I'll probably just continue to go on that same path."
After struggling early in the year, Ackley -- the No. 2 pick in the 2009 MLB Draft -- spent most of June in Triple-A, transitioning from second base to outfield and hitting .365. Since being recalled to the Majors on June 25, he's continued his torrid hitting, posting a .330 batting average since the All-Star break.
"The biggest piece that I was missing was just being ready from the first pitch, just being ready to hit the ball hard," Ackley said. "I think that's really what the success lately has been from, has been ready to hit from the first pitch. And then when you do get those hits, guys are starting to throw balls first pitch, thinking you're going to swing. It kind of reverses everything around and starts going in my favor a little bit."
With the sweep, the Angels have pulled to just a game behind Seattle in the American League West. The teams will likely spend the rest of the year battling for third in the division, with Texas and Oakland too far ahead and the Astros sitting firmly in the division's cellar.
"We're going to go out there and battle, Weaver said. "We know where we're at, and we're just going to go out there and try to battle and win games. We have a tough one coming up with Tampa. Try to get this rolling and keep going out there and battling."
After breezing through the first 3 2/3 innings, Harang ran into trouble. Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo hit back-to-back doubles to tie the game, before a Chris Nelson triple scored Trumbo and Hank Conger, who had walked.
Peter Bourjos, the No. 9 hitter in the Angels' lineup, added an RBI triple in the sixth, and Kole Calhoun's two-run homer gave Los Angeles a 7-1 lead.