ANAHEIM, Calif. – This was not supposed to happen, not this year. The Angels wanted to avoid another bad start to their season, but two games in, they’re 0-2.
It’s early. Two games out of 162 is nothing to fret about, but two consecutive seasons of slow starts are still fresh on their minds. They don’t want a third.
There was very little in an 8-3 loss Tuesday night to the Seattle Mariners that was encouraging. For a second night in a row, the Angels didn’t get big hits with men in scoring position. And their pitching – with the exception of reliever Matt Shoemaker – was unable to keep the Mariners in check.
All of a sudden, it’s starting to feel like 2013 all over again.
"I don’t think anybody has their head buried in the sand," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We know how important it is to get off to a good start, but I think we need to focus on the process. You need to play free. You can’t play anything but the process and playing aggressive baseball — making your pitches, making your plays, and that’s what we’re going to keep our focus on."
No sense thinking about the past. The last time the Angels began the season 0-2 was 2001, when they finished 75-87. In each of the past two seasons, they started 4-8 after 12 games, the worst 12-game starts in franchise history.
No one says it’s going to happen again, but the Angels can’t let this start build into something horrible. What they need is a win – even an ugly win.
"We’ve got 25 guys on the team and we’re trying to come together and play as a team," starter C.J. Wilson said. "That’s what’s important, but at the end of the day, if you’re not getting the job done, you’re not getting the job done. Everybody’s accountable for that."
Wilson gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings, including a three-run double to Justin Smoak in the third inning after intentionally walking Robinson Cano. He also surrendered a home run to Brad Miller, who hit two for the Mariners after entering the game with eight career homers.
Wilson did pick up his 1,000th career strikeout when he fanned Kyle Seager in the second, but as he said later, "It’s just a souvenir. My dog will probably chew it up in a year."
The Angels weren’t without their miscues. In the eighth, down 6-3, David Freese was picked off first base by Seattle left-hander Joe Beimel after the Angels scored a run on a throwing error by second baseman Cano. But Beimel didn’t need to throw a pitch to the plate, instead flipping to first to nail Freese for the last out of the inning.
Raul Ibanez, the Angels’ 41-year-old designated hitter, homered in the fourth, becoming the second-oldest Angels player to hit a home run. Andres Galarraga was 43 when he did it in 2004.
"There’s a lot of things we need to do better," Scioscia said. "We’re a better team than showed up the last couple of games.
"On the offensive side, we’re pressuring the other clubs. We’re getting some guys on base, but runners in scoring position last night and tonight really got us. Our situational hitting was good all spring. We just need to do a better job of it."
In fact, the Angels need to do a better job of everything. And quickly. Even if it’s early, they can’t afford a repeat of the past two seasons.