An errant warmup throw sailed over the head and out of the reach of Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, striking Cano on the front part of his head. Coming into Saturday’s game, Cano had 12 hits in his past 10 games.
ANAHIEM, Calif. — The concept of things going from bad to worse for the Mariners and Robinson Cano this season seems difficult to fathom. Seattle is struggling to stay out of last place in the American League West and Cano is a big reason for those struggles, going into the game with .246 batting average and a .639 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
And yet with one wayward throw in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Angels, bad was painfully replaced by worse for the team and its All-Star second baseman.
Already frustrated from failing to drive in a runner from third and tie the game with an inning-ending double play in the sixth inning, Cano sat at the far corner of the visitor’s dugout at Angels Stadium stewing in disappointment as the Mariners prepared to bat in the seventh. Suddenly, a white streak and searing pain to his forehead jarred him from his disenchantment.
Mariners @ L.A. Angels, 12:35 p.m., ROOT Sports
An errant warmup throw from shortstop Taylor Featherston sailed over the head and out of the reach of first baseman Albert Pujols, striking Cano on the front part of his head.
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“I was talking to (Franklin) Gutierrez and looking to my right,” Cano said. “Next thing I know I got hit in the head.”
The ball was thrown so hard and hit Cano so squarely it flew back onto the infield dirt some 30 feet away.
“Right when I saw it, I cringed,” Featherston said. “You never want to see anything like that. You never want to inflict anything on anybody else. For all I know, he’s a great dude.”
Featherston said it wasn’t intentional.
“Honestly, it was just an accident, and I feel terrible about it,” Featherston said. “I called him after the game and I apologized. I said, ‘I’m a huge fan of yours, and I’m sorry. It just got away. It just slipped.’ It’s never happened to me before, and I can only hope and pray that it never happens to me again, especially to such a good player.”
It left Cano dizzy and disoriented with a nasty welt on his head. He was removed from the game to undergo mandatory concussion protocols required by Major League Baseball. He passed the concussion tests.
“It just hurts right in that spot,” Cano said, pointing to the welt that had shrunken thanks to ice. “Besides that everything is good.”
Cano and manager Lloyd McClendon think he’ll even be in the lineup Sunday.
“He should be ready to go tomorrow,” McClendon said. “From what we’ve been told, he should be fine tomorrow.”
Going into Saturday’s game, Cano had 12 hits in his past 10 games and was starting to show signs of coming out of a prolonged funk.
“Hopefully everything stays the same,” Cano said. “I feel good right now. I can walk and was able to remember everything when we did the tests.”
Meanwhile, the Mariners slogged their way to another sub-three-run showing. And for Seattle starter J.A. Happ (3-5) this is nothing new.
In his past nine starts, when he was in the game pitching, the Mariners have scored more than two runs just once, leading to five straight no-decisions followed by four straight losses.
“It is what it is,” McClendon said. “We knew runs were going to be tough to come by.”
The first and last innings of Happ’s outing hurt him.
In the first inning, he gave up a leadoff single to Daniel Robertson and then left a 92 mph fastball up in the zone to Kole Calhoun, who redirected the pitch into the stands in right field for his seventh homer of the season and a 2-0 lead.
From there, Happ retired the next three batters to end the inning. And he found a rhythm, allowing just one hit over the next five innings.
The outing fell apart in the seventh. Happ gave up a double to Mike Trout, intentionally walked Pujols and then unintentionally walked David Freese to load the bases. Johnny Giavotella punched a single to right field to make it 3-1. Happ got pinch-hitter Erick Aybar to pop out in the infield. But the Angels got another run on a chopping ground-ball out to shortstop to make it 4-1.
“I’m sick of saying I’m frustrated to you guys and I’m sick of being frustrated,” Happ said. “But I felt good today and I feel like if I stay right there, things are going to turn.”
Seattle finally broke through in the sixth inning. Mike Zunino got things going with a one-out single up the middle. He hustled to third on Logan Morrison’s single to right field. With runners on the corners, Garrett Richards helped the Mariners out by tossing a wild pitch past catcher Carlos Perez to allow Zunino to score.
Seattle’s other run came in the eighth when Zunino hit a 0-2 slider over the wall in left-center for his eighth homer of the season.