SEATTLE — Matt Shoemaker turned his head just enough to avoid taking Kyle Seager’s 105 mph line drive square in the face, then stumbled before falling to the infield grass.
"That was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen on a baseball field," Seager said.
Shoemaker was hospitalized with a small skull fracture and small hematoma from the line drive during the Los Angeles Angels‘ 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
Shoemaker was struck on the right side of his head with one out in the second inning, getting his face out of the way but failing to get his mitt up in time to stop the hard-hit ball.
After the game, the Angels announced that a CT scan revealed Shoemaker suffered the small fracture and hematoma. He was to be seen by a neurologist and remain in Seattle overnight for observation.
"It just gives you that feeling where you have a pit in your stomach," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Shoemaker was down for several minutes and bleeding from the spot where he was hit. Teammates knelt around the mound and Seager anxiously watched while Shoemaker was tended to. Shoemaker never lost consciousness.
He was tended to in the Angels clubhouse for a short time before being taken to a local hospital.
"The fact of the matter is he was conscious and at least all his reactions were what they were supposed to be on the assessment. I think we could exhale a little bit," Scioscia said. "Just to get him up and walking off the field let you feel a little bit better about what could have been happening. It’s tough."
Shoemaker is in his third full season with the Angels, emerging as a rookie in 2014 when he went 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA. He’s struggled at times this year but went into Sunday’s game having won his last three decisions.
"I had a good view of it and when you see it square someone up like that it’s scary," Angels catcher Jett Bandy said. "First thing first, you forget about baseball and you think about his health."
Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning and six relievers combined to shut down Seattle after Shoemaker was struck.
Pujols hit his 29th homer of the season off Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma (14-11) with two outs in the first and Cron followed with his 15th home run moments later. The Angels hit seven first-inning home runs in the three-game series.
Pujols added an RBI single in the sixth inning off Iwakuma, and Andrelton Simmons had an RBI single in the eighth inning off reliever Dan Altavilla. Iwakuma went seven innings, giving up eight hits and the three runs.
After Shoemaker walked off the field with trainers on both sides, the Angels leaned on their bullpen. Deolis Guerra (3-0) was the first of the relievers to enter, followed by Jose Alvarez, Mike Morin, Cody Ege and JC Ramirez. Robinson Cano hit his 31st homer off Ege in the sixth and Nelson Cruz hit his 35th in the eighth off Ramirez, both solo shots.
But that was all the Angels allowed, and Andrew Bailey pitched the ninth for his first save.
"Those guys all went out there and took the ball and did a great job," Scioscia said. "Your thoughts are elsewhere at that point until you can understand exactly what is happening with Matt."
The Angels took two of three in the series, providing another damaging blow to Seattle’s fleeting post-season hopes. The Mariners have dropped seven of eight with AL West-leading Texas coming in for a four-game series starting Monday, likely Seattle’s last opportunity to get back into the wild-card race.
Seattle added depth to its overused bullpen by activating RHP Drew Storen and recalling LHP David Rollins on Sunday. Storen had been sidelined by shoulder inflammation, and the pair gives manager Scott Servais a few more options for the later innings with Seattle’s starters struggling to get deep into games of late.
Angels: Jered Weaver (10-11) makes his 27th start as the Angels open a series in Oakland. Weaver got the win in his last start against Cincinnati.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (9-5) looks to rebound from one of his worst outings of the season as Seattle opens a series against Texas. Hernandez allowed six earned runs in four innings in a loss to the Rangers last Wednesday.