ANAHEIM -- The Mariners could have used more at-bats on Saturday night like the one pinch-hitter Ben Broussard had in the eighth inning. It wasn't so much the grand way the at-bat ended -- with a booming bases-loaded home run that produced the final four runs in a 7-6 loss to the Angels -- but the tenacity Broussard displayed while extending his only plate appearance to a full count. He battled the way few others in the Seattle lineup did, especially against Angels starter Bartolo Colon.
Of the 29 batters Colon faced in his first start of the season, 12 of them put the ball in play in two or fewer pitches. The Mariners' lack of patience at the plate played right into Colon's hands, and he needed just 55 pitches to get through five innings, and 77 to make it through seven innings. On the other hand, Mariners left-hander Horacio Ramirez threw 33 pitches in the first inning. For whatever reason, manager Mike Hargrove kept the clubhouse doors closed longer than usual after his team's fifth consecutive defeat and would not discuss the latest loss with the media. As is their tendency so far this season, the Mariners fell behind early and came roaring back in the late innings. They were trailing, 7-0, after six innings, scored a run in the seventh and stunned the big crowd in the eighth, when three singles and a walk set up the first pinch-hit grand slam in franchise history. Broussard, batting for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt with one out and teammates on every base, drove a pitch from Angels reliever Scot Shields far over the right-field fence for the 75th grand slam in Mariners history. "I was just trying not to strike out," said Broussard, who swung through the first two pitches he saw. "I basically went up there and tried to put the ball in play in that situation. It's tough to come off the bench like that, and [Shields] is really dirty. He's firm, hides the ball good and I haven't had much success against him." The last thing Broussard wanted was to fall behind, 0-2, in the count. But he did, and then Shields missed with three pitches. "I wanted to get something I could drive," Broussard said, "and he threw a fastball a little up." The grand slam was the fifth of Broussard's career and he still finds it difficult to describe the feeling of clearing the bases the grandest way of all. "You just float around the bases when you hit a home run like that," he said. "It's hard to explain. When you hit a grand slam, you don't realize it when it happens." The Mariners must be wondering what it takes to end a skid that is getting old in a hurry. "We hit a lot of balls good, but [Colon] threw strikes. He got ahead, and that's what happens when you pitch that way," left fielder Raul Ibanez said. "Balls we hit well went right at people." The game plan going in apparently was to make Colon work for his outs. "You would like to work counts on him," Ibanez added, "but he was at strike one, and that puts you in a hole right away. He's pumping a lot of fastballs, so you have to swing the bat." Colon struck out only one batter -- Jose Vidro in the first inning with Ichiro on third base and one out -- and he didn't walk anyone. There were first-inning indications that it would not be a particularly good night for Ramirez. He picked a runner off first base but didn't get an out. An ensuing line drive that Orlando Cabrera smacked through the middle left Ramirez on the seat of his pants on the mound. And the second pitch Ramirez threw Vladimir Guerrero was driven over the "Auto Club" sign in left-center field for a two-run home run that capped a three-run inning and put the Mariners behind for good. Ramirez settled down after the 33-pitch first inning, but the Mariners' hitters never settled in against Colon, who was making his first start since July 26, when he was shelved by a torn rotator cuff. Ramirez lasted until the fifth inning, when back-to-back walks and an RBI single to left-center by Garret Anderson delivered the knockout punch. "It was like I had a bull's-eye on my chest," said Ramirez, who had a personal seven-game winning streak against American League teams end. "I don't think I was too good today. My two-seamer wasn't running as much as it usually does." Catcher Kenji Johjima, who singled in the fourth inning, departed in the bottom of the fifth inning with a bruised right calf. His status for the series finale wasn't immediately known, although with a day game on Sunday following a night game, Jamie Burke probably would start anyway.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.