Mariners 2, Angels 1: Three Up, Three Down

Ervin Santana had a good start but also committed a costly error that contributed to two unearned runs. Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire

ANAHEIM -- The Angels had as many errors, four, as hits Tuesday night and -- not surprisingly -- they lost to Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners, 2-1 at Angel Stadium.

The mistakes proved costly, as did the loss. The Angels dropped a game in the standings and now trail the Texas Rangers by 3 1/2 with 20 games left.

The Good:

Staying hot. Ervin Santana wasn't particularly dominant and he made one of the errors that cost him two unearned runs, but he continues to be the Angels' best starting pitcher in recent weeks. Santana got through six laborious innings and hasn't had a bad start since the end of May. He had to swallow just his second loss since June 15.

Learning fast. It didn't seem particularly noteworthy, but file Garrett Richards' scoreless seventh inning away. It was his first professional relief appearance and he seemed perfectly comfortable. Richards pitched around a single and an infield hit, struck out two and touched 94 mph on the radar gun. The 23-year-old rookie could be a significant addition to the bullpen this September.

Sparking things. Torii Hunter is showing some creativity -- and a willingness to set the table rather than clear it -- during this hot second half. With Hernandez dominating the Angels' lineup, Hunter bunted his way on, reached second on Hernandez's throwing error and scored a cheap run on Alberto Callaspo's single. It was a good example of scrapping for runs against a tough pitcher.

The Bad:

Slop. The Mariners committed five errors Monday night and the illness apparently is contagious. The Angels made four. They seemed incapable of making a routine play in the early innings, with errors by Santana and Erick Aybar leading to unearned runs. The mistakes were crucial, as well as being surprising, since this has been a solid fielding team all year.

Subs. A couple of Mike Scioscia's pinch-hitting decisions seemed odd. Twice, he pinch-hit for the catcher's spot with non-catchers, forcing him to use four guys for two substitutions. Neither Mike Trout or Howie Kendrick got on base and, meanwhile, two left-handed hitters, Hank Conger and Russell Branyan never got off the bench to face Hernandez. Strange.

Short. Balance has been a strength for the Angels lineup lately, but it hasn't been for most of the season. The Nos. 7, 8 and 9 hitters Tuesday went 0-for-10 with with a couple of strikeouts. They collectively reached base once, when Peter Bourjos struck out and got to first on a passed ball.