SEATTLE (AP) — Now the Los Angeles Angels are more concerned about Josh Hamilton’s aching thumb than their inability to solve the Seattle Mariners early this season.
Hamilton left Tuesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Mariners in the ninth inning after injuring his left thumb. The slugger was hurt two innings earlier when he slid headfirst into first base trying to beat out a grounder.
Hamilton remained in the game, but was struggling to throw the ball and grip the bat. Ian Stewart pinch-hit for Hamilton in the ninth and struck out when the Angels had the potential tying runs on base.
“We’ll keep our fingers crossed, but it is swollen,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said.
Hamilton was expected to be examined further on Wednesday.
Scioscia didn’t seem to have a problem with Hamilton sliding headfirst.
“It’s part of his instinct to get to a base,” the manager said. “Sometimes you just react to a situation. It’s just competitive nature and Josh plays hard.”
Albert Pujols and David Freese hit consecutive homers in the first inning but the latest Seattle nemesis for the Angels was Corey Hart, who homered twice and drove in four runs. He hit a three-run drive in the third inning off starter Hector Santiago, then added a solo shot in the seventh.
After not doing much the first week of the season, Hart was eager to start contributing.
“So many guys on this team have been chipping in and I haven’t been one of them,” he said. “It was nice to find contact tonight and be able to help out. I was getting kind of tired watching everyone else help out.”
Santiago (0-2) was left lamenting the third inning because of one pitch. Seattle’s rally started when he struck out Brad Miller but the ball bounced away from catcher Chris Iannetta. Miller reached first and Santiago pitched around Robinson Cano, walking him on four pitches.
Justin Smoak lined a two-strike single to score Miller, and Hart made Santiago pay for missing with an 0-2 pitch. It was the third time in his career Hart has homered on an 0-2 pitch.
“I tried to beat him in and just left it over the middle of the plate,” Santiago said.
Seattle became the final major league team to open at home and improved to 4-0 against the Angels this season. After fans at Safeco Field gave Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll and other members of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks a raucous ovation, the Mariners gave the sold-out crowd some winning baseball to cheer for.
Mariners starter James Paxton (2-0) gave up the two first-inning homers, then retired 14 straight. He left in the sixth after straining a muscle on the left side of his back. Paxton is scheduled to have an MRI on Wednesday, but didn’t consider the injury serious.
“Early on we had some good looks at Paxton, but he settled down and pitched a strong game,” Scioscia said.
Pujols hit his first homer of the season, a two-run shot. He became the second active player with 1,500 career RBIs.
Freese followed with a home run to center, but the Angels did very little otherwise at the plate. Kole Calhoun’s single in the sixth was their only hit after the first.
Robinson Cano’s home debut in Seattle was mostly uneventful. Cano went 0 for 3 and scored a run.
NOTES: Pujols became the 52nd player overall to reach 1,500 RBIs. … LHP Roenis Elias will make his first start in Seattle for the Mariners on Wednesday against Garrett Richards. Elias threw five solid innings in his debut last week.