Felix Hernandez can accept allowing a home run to Albert Pujols.
Alberto Callaspo is another matter.
Pujols homered for the third straight game, and Callaspo had a sixth-inning pinch grand slam to lead the Los Angeles Angels over the Seattle Mariners 5-3 Saturday.
“Two pretty good pitches,” Hernandez said. “The grand slam was up and in and he just hit it. It was a good slider to Pujols, too and he hit it. Pujols is a pretty good hitter.”
Pujols put the Angels ahead in the fourth when he connected on a 2-1 pitch to give him homers in three straight games.
Callaspo’s slam was the first by an Angels pinch hitter since Shane Halter against Tampa Bay’s Trever Miller on May 8, 2004.
“The pitch I threw to Callaspo was a pretty good pitch, like he was trying to hit a popup and he hit it out of the ballpark,” Hernandez said.
Pujols was hitting .194 with no homers and five RBIs through May 4, when the Angels were 10-17. Since then he’s batting .280 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs, and Los Angeles improved to 23-25 with its season-best fifth straight win.
“Obviously, we struggled last month,” Pujols said. “We’ve been playing pretty well the last couple weeks. Sooner or later, we knew we were going to turn it around. We were not going to force things. That’s the way this game is.
Hernandez (4-4) allowed five runs and 10 hits in six innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. His ERA rose to 3.17.
“We beat a great pitcher today,” Pujols said. “That guy’s nasty. He made a mistake and we took advantage.”
Pujols, who faced Hernandez only once previously – in the All-Star game – struck out on three pitches in the first inning. Hernandez didn’t think the home run came on a mistake.
“It was a good slider to Pujols and he hit it,” Hernandez said. “Pujols is a pretty good hitter.”
Jerome Williams (5-2) allowed all three runs and five hits in six innings, and Jordan Walden, Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri combined for one-hit relief. Frieri got his second career save, three days after earning his first.
“We had to click, and now we’re clicking,” Williams said.
After Pujols’ homer, the Mariners went ahead 2-1 in the fifth on RBI singles by Mike Carp and Dustin Ackley.
Mark Trumbo, who had three hits, singled to start the sixth-inning rally. Singles by Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar loaded the bases. Hernandez struck out Kole Calhoun before Angels manager Mike Scioscia sent Callaspo up to bat for catcher Bobby Wilson.
“There were some shadows there, it was tough to see,” Scioscia said. “Hernandez was tough. I thought it was a chance to at least tie the game. I thought we had a better chance with Alberto up there.”
Callaspo turned on a 0-1 fastball and put it into the right-field seats for his second career slam and a 5-2 lead.
” I don’t know how I hit the ball that hard,” Callaspo said. “I was trying to do my job, not (thinking) a grand slam, but I did.”
Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo said Callaspo “didn’t even believe he hit the ball like this.”
“It’s unbelievable,” Olivo said. “If something like that is going to happen, it’s going to happen.”
NOTES: Mariners CF Franklin Gutierrez, who partially tore his right pectoral muscle during spring training, is close to being sent out on a rehabilitation assignment. “He ran today,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “Initially, we thought we’d get him early tomorrow or the next day. We’ll see where he is today.” … The Angels’ bullpen has a 0.72 ERA over the past 12 games. … It was a `Turn Back the Clock” game as the Mariners assumed the identity of the 1955 Pacific Coast League champion Seattle Rainiers. The Angels wore uniforms of the PCL’s 1955 Los Angeles Angels.
Dan Haren and the Los Angeles Angels are struggling.
Haren lost his fourth straight start Saturday night as the Angels were defeated 3-2 by the San Diego Padres.
Alexi Amarista scored San Diego’s first two runs against his former team and then doubled in the go-ahead run off Haren in the seventh inning.
“I’m better than this,” said Haren, who has lost seven of nine decisions dating to last year. “I feel good, health-wise, at least from two starts ago. I thought I looked better as the game went on. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to win games. I’m frustrated at 1-5. I’m not happy about it and the team is not happy with where we are at.”
Haren allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out five and walked one.
“I feel like I haven’t really got hit around too much, but my numbers don’t look good,” Haren said. “I feel better than what I’m showing. I know that the wins will come.”
Said manager Mike Scioscia: “I thought as he got into the game, his stuff was there. He’s much further along right now than he has been at any point in the season, and that’s encouraging.”
Amarista, who was on the Angels’ opening day roster, started his third straight game for the Padres at second base. He replaced Orlando Hudson, who was waived on Thursday as part of a shake-up of the middle infield. Amarista and shortstop Everth Cabrera, who has replaced the injured Jason Bartlett, were recalled from Triple-A Tucson.
Amarista appeared in one game for the Angels as a pinch runner before being optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake. He was acquired from the Angels on May 3 along with minor league right-hander Donn Roach for reliever Ernesto Frieri.
Erick Aybar tied his career high with four hits, falling a home run short of the cycle. He had an RBI triple and scored a run. He singled with one out in the ninth and reached third with two outs before Dale Thayer struck out Ryan Langerhans to earn his fifth save in as many chances.
The Padres handed Haren (1-5) his fourth straight loss. Haren has lost seven of nine decisions dating to last season. He allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out five and walked one.
With the game tied at 2, Nick Hundley singled to left to open the seventh and was sacrificed by Cabrera. Amarista followed with a slicing double to left to put the Padres ahead.
Amarista manufactured a run in the third. He reached on an infield single, beat the throw when catcher John Hester went for the lead runner on newcomer Eric Stults’ sacrifice bunt, and then daringly took third on Will Venable’s fly to left, beating Mike Trout’s throw. Amarista then scored on Cameron Maybin’s sacrifice fly to left. That tied the game at 1.
The Angels went ahead in the fifth when Aybar hit a leadoff double off the base of the left-field wall, advanced on Haren’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Trout’s groundout.
Amarista tied it for the Padres in the bottom of the inning when he drew a leadoff walk, was sacrificed by Stults, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Cameron Maybin’s single to center.
Stults, a left-hander acquired off waivers from the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, made his Padres debut in place of Tim Stauffer, who went on the disabled list for the second time this year with an elbow injury. Stults allowed two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out two and walked three.
Luke Gregerson (1-0) relieved Stults with two outs in the seventh and a runner on second and got Trout to fly out.
Notes: The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Nathan Burnett of the USS San Diego, which was commissioned earlier Saturday. Burnett was the 45th-round draft pick of the Angels in 1996. … The Padres placed OF Mark Kotsay on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain and recalled outfielder Blake Tekotte from Triple-A Tucson. Kotsay’s move is retroactive to last Sunday. The 36-year-old is hitting .294 with one homer and six RBIs in 18 games, and is 3 for 10 as a pinch-hitter, with a double, homer and four RBIs. Tekotte is up for the second time this season. He was first recalled April 28 and played in five games before being optioned back to Tucson on May 8. … The series concludes Sunday when the Angels’ Ervin Santana (2-6, 4.36 ERA) is scheduled to face Anthony Bass (2-4, 2.87).
“We have a couple new pieces and we’re just looking to jell,” Wilson said.
Add in a spotless effort by the bullpen plus some nice fielding plays and this looked like the powerful Angels club many people predicted.
“I think we’re scratching the surface of what we can do,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
Pujols got in the swing, too, after a quiet start with his new team. He singled sharply his first time up, then hit an RBI double that one-hopped the center-field wall. He later lined out twice and flied out to the fence in left.
The three-time NL MVP is still looking for his first home run of the year. He hasn’t connected in eight games – that matches his longest homer drought at the start of a season, also done in 2008 with St. Louis.
“The thing we don’t want to do is put too much pressure on yourself,” Pujols said.
Wilson (2-0) effectively pitched inside and worked out of frequent trouble, allowing only one run in six innings. He gave up back-to-back singles to start the game and stranded runners at second and third in each of his last three innings.
Wilson, who along with Pujols signed a rich free-agent deal in the offseason, had been 0-3 lifetime against the Yankees. That spanned 21 games, four of them starts.
“I don’t know if it’s about anybody having to own up to any contract,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Los Angeles had lost five of its previous six games, with poor starts a major culprit. Wilson provided the key pitches – as he did in his debut against Minnesota – and delivered yet another quality performance on the road.
“I think he got us to chase some pitches off the plate inside, and that’s what he does,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He can get you to expand the zone and he can break bats and get in on guys. When he got the ball away, we hit pretty good, but when he got it in, we did not.”
The Angels backed Wilson with big hits, most of them off Phil Hughes (0-2). The three home runs equaled their total from the entire season.
Iannetta put them ahead with his first AL homer, a two-run slice inside the right-field foul pole in the second. Pujols made it 3-0 with his double and Kendrick, a longtime Yankees nemesis, finished Hughes with a three-run homer in the fourth. Kendrick got three hits.
Hughes drew a smattering of boos when he walked off the mound. An All-Star in 2010, he struggled last year and went just 4 2-3 innings last weekend in his first start against Tampa Bay. With Michael Pineda and Andy Pettitte expected to rejoin the Yankees at some point, Hughes’ spot in the rotation isn’t assured.
Wells hit his 250th career home run in the fifth, connecting against reliever David Phelps for a 7-0 lead.
Phelps had started his major league career this year by retiring 13 straight batters before Wells homered. That was the lone hit Phelps gave up in 5 1-3 innings.
Robinson Cano singled home a run in the Yankees fifth for his first RBI of the season.
NOTES: Yankees OF Brett Gardner did not play while slowed by flulike symptoms. … Angels cleanup man Kendrys Morales doesn’t have an RBI in 30 at-bats this season. … Angels closer Jordan Walden pitched the ninth. It was his second appearance of the year. … Angels RHP Jerome Williams (left hamstring) is set to come off the disabled list and start Sunday vs. the Yankees. The Angels optioned LHP Brad Mills to Triple-A Salt Lake after the game. Mills was promoted from the minors earlier in the day. … Top Yankees prospect LHP Manny Banuelos is on the disabled list in Triple-A with back trouble. He’s been wild and ineffective in two starts.
Bobby Abreu was ejected for the fifth time in his career Tuesday night for disputing a called third strike, never leaving the batterâ€™s box as home plate umpire Angel Campos tossed him.
And that, apparently, was the problem.
â€śAngel said he let Bobby have his say and was going to let Bobby walk away but he didnâ€™t, and enough was enough,â€ť Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Scioscia, though, said he thought the ejection â€śwas a little quick,â€ť and so did Abreu, whose 1,394 career walks rank 28th all-time.
â€śThey (umpires) know that I know the strike zone very well,â€ť Abreu said. â€śI donâ€™t argue with the umpires very often. In a way, he should have more respect, knowing me, I take a lot of pitches and I know the strike zone very well.â€ť
Abreu said he did not get heated or vulgar, he simply said, â€śthe ball was down, the ball was down.â€ť
â€śI can take it if heâ€™s a little confused, heâ€™s human, we all make mistakes,â€ť Abreu said. â€śBut his reaction was that he was right.â€ť
Abreu was the first ejection of Tuesdayâ€™s game, but not the last. Tigers manager Jim Leyland and pitchers Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello were ejected as well.
Porcello was in the dugout and not in the game when he was ejected in the ninth inning. Verlander was ejected by third base umpire Angel Hernandez as Verlander walked off the field with two outs in the eighth inning, just having been removed from the game.
â€śI donâ€™t know what he was ejected from, maybe he couldnâ€™t eat after the game,â€ť Scioscia joked.
Verlander had motioned to Hernandez as he walked off the mound, upset at having been warned a couple times during the game for putting his hand to his mouth and then touching the baseball. The amended rule implemented this year states that a pitcher may go to his mouth on the mound, but must wipe his hand on his pants or jersey before grabbing the baseball.
Vernon Wells bruised his right heel and â€śtweakedâ€ť his right ankle on a play at first base Tuesday night, and Wednesday afternoon he was the designated hitter. Abreu started in left field. â€¦Â Shortstop Erick Aybar has tightness in the quadriceps muscles of his legs and was given the day off Wednesday, but is expected back in the lineup Thursday.
Tim Salmon is the only Rookie of the Year in Angels franchise history, but he thinks that might change this season.
First baseman Mark Trumbo leads all A.L. rookies in home runs (13), hits (67), doubles (15), runs (30) and total bases (122).
â€śHis power is off the charts,â€ť Salmon said. â€śItâ€™s interesting because his swing is a little more refined and fluid for a big guy.â€ť
Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher compared Trumboâ€™s power to Mark McGwire earlier this season, but Salmon disagrees.
â€śMcGwireâ€™s more of a brute,â€ť Salmon said. â€ś(Trumbo) tries to hit the other way, he stays inside the ball, he swings down through the ball. I liken his swing to more of a Frank Thomas.â€ť
Fernando Valenzuela threw out Fridayâ€™s ceremonial first pitch as part of the Angelsâ€™ season-long 50th anniversary celebration, in which a player for the organizationâ€™s past receives the honor before every home game. Valenzuela, who played 11 seasons with the Dodgers, played briefly for the Angels in 1991, going 0-2 with a 12.15 ERA in two games.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was Valenzuelaâ€™s catcher with the Dodgers and did the honors Friday. Before the game, Scioscia was asked if he would squat in a catcherâ€™s crouch.
â€śIf I squat, itâ€™s not by design,â€ť Scioscia said. â€śIf I go down, have a crane ready to help me up.â€ť
Scioscia did squat and Valenzuela threw a strike.
Angels reliever Fernando Rodney (strained upper back) threw a bullpen workout Friday and could begin a rehab assignment Sunday or Monday. If all goes well he could be activated by the middle of next week.