Halos hang on against Mariners
Bullpen narrowly salvages Colon's impressive return
ANAHEIM -- The Angels and a sellout crowd welcomed Bartolo Colon back to the mound on Saturday night. They are also welcoming back their once-struggling offense.Colon pitched seven strong innings and every Angels starter had at least one hit as they defeated the Seattle Mariners, 7-6, at Angel Stadium. Colon was on the mound for the first time since July, now fully recovered from a torn right rotator cuff. He allowed one earned run on seven hits with no walks. His fastball was consistently clocked between 92-95 mph. He recorded one strikeout and threw only 77 pitches (55 strikes) in the efficient outing, which pleased Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "Bart's done an extraordinary amount of work to get back, and he pitched a great game tonight," said Scioscia. "His game is based much more on command and movement than it is on velocity, but when he marries all of those he can be terrific like he was tonight." Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero again led the Halos' offense, homering for the second consecutive game. Guerrero's fifth home run of the season in the first inning was a two-run shot that gave the Angels an early lead. He now has 15 RBIs on the season in just 15 games. Robb Quinlan got the start at first base for the Angels and responded with his first two hits of the season, including a two-run single in the fifth inning to put the Angels ahead, 6-0. The Halos chased Seattle starter Horacio Ramirez before he recorded an out in the fifth, as he was charged with six earned runs in his four-plus innings. "We were getting on base, running well and doing a lot of the things this offense needs to do to be successful," said Scioscia. "We were 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position tonight after going 5-for-9 last night, and that is an encouraging sign." Things got interesting in the eighth inning. Darren Oliver relieved Colon and allowed three hits before being lifted for Scot Shields. After Shields walked catcher Jaime Burke to load the bases, Seattle manager Mike Hargrove countered with pinch-hitter Ben Broussard. Broussard then belted the first pinch-hit grand slam in Mariners history to bring his team within one. Angels closer Frankie Rodriguez came on in the ninth and worked a perfect inning to record his sixth save of the season. He struck out Raul Ibanez swinging to end the game. Gary Matthews Jr. had two hits and three steals for the Halos, but Colon was the big story on Saturday night. Colon's outing was encouraging at a time when the Angels are on the verge of having all five of their projected starters back healthy. Kelvim Escobar is expected to come off the disabled list on Tuesday to pitch against the Detroit Tigers. Colon threw three rehab outings in the Minor Leagues leading up to his start on Saturday and said that he felt really strong. "My goal all along was to pitch in April. I worked really hard to get back here, and I want to thank my teammates for all the runs they gave me tonight," Colon said. "I know the days of throwing 99, 100 miles per hour are over for me, but my mind is stronger." Colon said the opposition was a big key to his abnormally efficient outing.
"The Mariners helped me out by swinging at the first and second pitch a lot tonight," Colon said. "Everyone but [Jose] Vidro, I guess, was expecting me to challenge them early with fastballs and that kept my pitch count low."The Angels did get an early scare in the top of the second inning, when Jose Guillen hit a grounder to first that Quinlan threw high to Colon, who was running to cover the bag. Colon tweaked his ankle on the play as Guillen beat the throw, but the pitcher remained in the game and was able to finish strong. The Angels will wrap up the series on Sunday afternoon, looking for a sweep of the three-game tilt. Ervin Santana will face former Angels right-hander Jeff Weaver in that contest.
Richie Brand is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.