ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — This wasn’t what the Los Angeles Angels had in mind when they lined up along the foul lines a few days ago to start a new season against a team that finished with 91 losses last season.
Their 8-2 loss Wednesday night to the Seattle Mariners marked the first time that the Halos were swept in a season-opening three-game series since 1992 at Anaheim, when the Chicago White Sox beat Mark Langston, Jim Abbott and Joe Grahe.
This time it was Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and newcomer Hector Santiago who took their lumps, along with a beleaguered bullpen as the Mariners outscored the Angels 26-8. Manager Mike Scioscia’s pitching staff surrendered 17 extra-base hits and 15 walks in the series.
“That’s obviously not the way we wanted to come out and open this thing up,” said Angels third baseman David Freese, the 2011 World Series MVP with St. Louis. “They all count, but it’s a long season and we’ll bounce back. There’s a lot of guys in this clubhouse that understand what a baseball season consists of, and sometimes this happens.”
Santiago (0-1) was charged with four runs, four hits and three walks in five-plus innings after going 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in five spring training starts. The 26-year-old left-hander, beginning his first full season as a starter, was acquired in December along with Tyler Skaggs from Arizona in a three-way trade with the Chicago White Sox that sent slugger Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks.
Seattle scored 18 of its runs in this series with two outs. Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, who left the New York Yankees after nine seasons to sign a 10-year, $240 million free agent contract, finished his first series in a Seattle uniform 5 for 11 with two intentional walks.
“His presence definitely affects any lineup,” Freese said. “I mean, you look up and down that lineup and it’s a complete lineup. They’ve got some thunder, some speed and some quality hitters over there and they were running on all cylinders this series.”
James Paxton (1-0) pitched seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball after getting staked to a six-run lead and Cano drove in his first run for the Mariners.
Smoak, Mike Zunino and Corey Hart all homered for the Mariners, who swept a season-opening three-game set for the second time in their 38-year history. The other time was in 1985, when they started out 6-0 at home against Oakland and Minnesota before losing 12 of their next 13.
“We had a lot of confidence coming in,” Smoak said. “We’ve got a great pitching staff. Paxton, Erasmo (Ramirez) and Felix (Hernandez) pitched their butts off and gave us a chance to win, and we were able to score some runs.”
Paxton threw 99 pitches in his fifth big league start and struck out nine, including Josh Hamilton all three times he faced him. Hamilton also struck out against Nector Noesi for the final out after Noesi gave up Mike Trout’s RBI triple and Freese’s sacrifice fly.
The Mariners broke it open with four runs in the sixth, as Stefan Romero greeted Fernando Salas with an RBI double and Zunino hit his sixth big league homer. Smoak and Hart both homered with two outs in the ninth against Ernesto Frieri.
NOTES: Trout’s contract that starts in 2015 contains award bonuses for 2018-20 only – the three years during the deal he would have been eligible for free agency. He gets $50,000 for making the All-Star team, $75,000 each for winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger, $75,000 for league championship series MVP and $100,000 for World Series MVP. He would get $500,000 for winning the MVP award and $75,000 for finishing second or third. … The Angels begin a four-game series Friday night at Houston. The Astros won the season series 10-9 last year, despite finishing a major league-worst and franchise-worst 51-111 after switching over from the NL to the AL.