ANAHEIM, Calif. – Mike Leake is going to give up contact. That’s who he is as a pitcher. He knows it. The Mariners knew it when they acquired him.
And on those nights when his command isn’t somewhere between good and precise, well, he’s going to struggle.
That version of Leake appeared on Tuesday night at Angels Stadium and it got ugly in a decisive 9-3 defeat against the Los Angeles Angels.
It was the Mariners’ fourth defeat in six games, dropping them to 57-35.
Los Angeles hitters rocked Leake for seven runs (five earned) on 11 hits and knocked him out of the game after four innings. It was the second consecutive outing that the veteran right-hander failed to make it past the fourth. Leake has allowed 20 hits in those two starts.
This just wasn’t about a few random balls in play finding holes and leading to runs as in previous start against the Rockies. No, these balls were hit hard enough to make their own holes in the defense. Using Statcast technology, seven of the balls put in play off Leake came off the bat at 100 mph or more and six more were plus-90 mph. It’s a fancy way of saying there wasn’t much weak contact.
And it was evident from his first inning of work.
His teammates staked him to a 3-0 lead in the first. Dee Gordon and Jean Segura collected back-to-back singles off Angels starter Garrett Richards. Mitch Haniger showed why he earned a spot on the American League All-Star team with one vicious swing. Haniger ambushed a first-pitch slider Richards left over the middle of plate, swatting his 18th homer of the season and pushing his RBI total to 65.
Usually that sort of lead allows a starter like Leake, who relies on pitching contact, some critical cushion to work. But the Angels needed just two innings to erase that deficit. Leake gave up hard singles to three of the first four batters he faced to allow a run to score in the first and was bailed out of a bases-loaded jam when Segura gloved a screaming line drive off the bat of Ian Kinsler to end the inning.
The Angels tied the game in the second. An error by Gordon on a groundball and a double by Martin Maldonado led to runs batted in from Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons.
Leake’s outing fell apart in a marathon fourth when the Angels scored four runs, highlighted by run-scoring doubles from Simmons and Kinsler and a two-run blast from Albert Pujols.
Even with all the runs allowed by Leake, the Mariners should have scored more than three runs, particularly when Richards left the game with two outs in the third with an injury.