ANAHEIM, Calif. — The pitcher and the manager agreed on two salient points Friday night.
The pitcher felt good, and the pitcher made one critical mistake.
Sometimes that’s all it takes. Dan Haren knows that as well as anyone.
The Angels right-hander threw a pretty good game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the opener of a three-game series at Angel Stadium. The one pitch he threw that he’d like to have back was a three-run sixth-inning homer by Arizona’s Aaron Hill.
Forget everything else. That was the decisive blow in the D-Backs’ 5-0 win.
“I was cruising along and just made that one bad pitch,” Haren said. “The game was over right there.”
Essentially it was, although you’d have to dismiss the fact that the Angels were held to a mere three hits by three Diamondbacks pitchers and were shut out for the 14th time this season. The first five batters in their lineup were a combined 0 for 20.
There was plenty of credit for Arizona starter Trevor Cahill, who pitched into the eighth and permitted just five base runners in the first seven innings, all with two outs. The Angels got only two men as far as second base.
So no matter how well Haren might have pitched, he wasn’t getting any offensive support. And this was a game against the team that traded him to the Angels in July 2010. You bet he wanted to beat the D-Backs.
“I wanted it bad,” he said. “Coming out, I felt great. I’ve just got to tip my hat to them. I didn’t make too many mistakes, to be honest with you, but the ones I did make, they made me pay.”
The only one that really mattered was the 1-0 pitch to Hill. It followed a one-out double by Jason Kubel and a two-out intentional walk to Miguel Montero.
Haren initially threw two balls out of the strike zone to Montero, hoping he’d chase. Then it was decided to just put him on and face Hill.
Here’s how Scioscia described the decision to walk Montero, who had struck out in the first and drove a single to center in the fourth after fouling off eight pitches.
“Montero had just had two really good at-bats,” he said. “The first one, Dan threw a 3-2 split and struck him out. The next one must’ve been at least a 10-pitch at-bat and he lined a single to left-center.
“That was a situation where we definitely trust Dan enough to get a feel for it, and he wanted to try to expand the zone a little once it became 2 and 0. We felt it was better to start with a fresh count with Hill, and unfortunately he got hold of a 1-0 cutter and hit it out of the park.”
Here was Haren’s thinking: “They wanted to walk Montero. I wanted to at least try to get him out with some balls (out of the strike zone). I threw two balls inside that he didn’t chase, so I went ahead and put him on and took my chances with Hill.”
Until then, Haren and Cahill were in control. Haren gave up three consecutive hits to begin the game, then retired 15 of the next 16 batters. Cahill set down 14 of the first 16 he faced and gave up just one hit through four innings.
“Tonight could’ve gone either way,” Scioscia said. “I thought Dan was throwing the ball well. They bunched some hits in the sixth inning, but his stuff was good. He just missed with that 1-0 pitch (to Hill).”
It was enough to send Haren to his seventh loss of the season. Considering how well he felt, the result was aggravating.
“I actually felt great,” he said. “I haven’t felt that good in a while. I know the numbers weren’t good. It was really that one mistake to Hill.”