Opener gets away from Angels, Weaver
Ace duels with Felix early, but Mariners rough up bullpen
ANAHEIM -- So much happened between the Mariners' 26th and 27th outs, none of which was good for the Angels and their quest to finally get off on the right foot.
There were six runs, courtesy of a long three-run homer and a backbreaking three-run triple, seven runners reaching base, eight additional batters coming to the plate and thousands of fans filing out of a quiet Angel Stadium that was filled to the brim not long before.
A one-run deficit, heading into a potential rally against Mariners closer Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the ninth, had quickly turned into a 10-3 thrashing.
"When it's a 4-3 game, guys are a little bit more upbeat, battling a little bit more," starting pitcher Jered Weaver said after taking the Opening Day loss. "When it's 10-3, it's kind of tough to dig yourself out of that hole."
This is the area where an Angels bullpen that promises to be deeper needs to get better. It's not really about holding leads late, a time when games typically line up perfectly and Mike Scioscia can go to his best relievers -- it's about keeping the small deficits manageable.
"I think we saw it came down to that tonight," Weaver said. "Their bullpen was a little bit better than ours. But what are you going to do?"
Weaver wasn't able to watch the top of the ninth.
"I went in the bathroom and threw up, actually."
The Angels' ace was sick when he took the mound against Felix Hernandez for his club-record sixth Opening Day start, but was still solid through the first five innings, giving up just one run on one walk and three hits while striking out six. He scuffled a bit in the sixth, giving up a two-out RBI double to Kyle Seager, but had the lead when Logan Morrison was thrown out trying to score from first.
The Mariners, winners of eight straight games on Opening Day, tied the game in the seventh on a triple from Mike Zunino, then Weaver left the game in the hands of a bullpen that ranked 25th in relief-pitcher WHIP last season.
The first batter Fernando Salas faced, Abraham Almonte, ripped an RBI double to center field to give the Mariners their first lead.
Two innings later, Kevin Jepsen struck out the first two batters, and then the doors swung wide open. Brad Miller singled, Robinson Cano doubled, Justin Smoak ripped a three-run shot way over the right-field fence, and Morrison and Seager drew back-to-back walks before Scioscia made a pitching change.
"Opening Night, you always want to go out there and have your best game," Jepsen said. "Unfortunately, this might have been one of my worst ever."
Nick Maronde -- added to the club because Sean Burnett and Brian Moran are on the disabled list and the Angels need a lefty -- walked the next batter, Michael Saunders, to load the bases, then gave up a three-run triple to Dustin Ackley before finally recording the final out.
"These guys are better than they showed tonight," Scioscia said of the relievers, who ranked third in the Majors in ERA during Spring Training. "They've been throwing the ball well all spring, they have good arms. They didn't get it done tonight, but they're better than this."
Opening Day started off somber, with hitting coach Don Baylor suffering a fractured right femur while fielding the ceremonial first pitch thrown by former outfielder Vladimir Guerrero.
It temporarily got thrilling, when Mike Trout's second swing of the season resulted in a laser over the left-field fence for a first-inning two-run homer.
"I was just ticked," said Hernandez, who made few other mistakes in giving up three runs and striking out 11 batters in six innings. "Opening Day, two run-homer in the first inning? I was just, 'Really? Really Felix?' You have to go out there and do something about it."
And it ended on a sour note, with the Angels snapping a string of five consecutive Opening Day victories in a year in which they're focusing on a fast start more than ever.
Asked what the Angels need to do to turn it around, Weaver said, curtly: "Try not to let them score 10 runs would probably be first and foremost."