It didn’t seem like a question about whether they would tie the score. It was how large of a lead the Mariners would have when the top of the eighth inning ended.
Trailing by a run, the Mariners loaded the bases with no outs and had their three most experienced hitters – Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager and Ty France – coming to the plate.
How about a loss?
The Angels brought in reliever Raisel Iglesias to clean up the mess created by Tony Watson. He did that and more to secure a 3-2 win Friday night at Angel Stadium. Seattle fell to 29-30 on the season.
Iglesias got Haniger to pop out to first base, struck out Seager after falling behind 3-1 in the count and struck out France looking with a 97 mph fastball painted on the outside corner.
“I have to give Iglesias a ton of credit,” M’s manager Scott Servais said. “He made huge pitches against the heart of our lineup. There wasn’t a whole lot to hit. He executed and we couldn’t quite get it done.”
Iglesias worked a 1-2-3 ninth, including strikeouts of Jarred Kelenic and Jose Godoy, to complete the six-out save, punctuating the accomplishment with a scream and both fingers pointed to the sky.
“He’s their closer for a reason” said outfielder Taylor Trammell, who started off the eighth with a double to right field. “That’s what they are build to do. I spent time with him in the Reds’ organization. He’s got electric stuff.”
The Mariners got their first taste of the phenomenon that is Shohei Ohtani — pitching and hitting in the same game. They’d only seen one or other in the same game in past regular-season games.
Ohtani pitched six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts in only 76 pitches to pick up the win. He had 15 swings-and-misses, including eight on his splitfinger fastball that was devastating to Mariners hitters. As a hitter, he went 0 for 2 with a walk.
“He’s got one of the special pitches in our game,” Servais said. “It’s (Gerrit) Cole’s fastball. It’s (Shane) Bieber’s breaking ball. Ohtani’s split-finger. It’s about as good as it gets. When he’s commanding it like it was tonight and throwing for it strikes and then took it below the zone, it’s a real challenge. We ended up with probably too many strikeouts, but it’s as good of a pitch as you’re going to see in the league. Our guys were on his fastball. He just got us out with the splitter.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon told Angels reporters after the game that he removed Ohtani earlier than expected because he saw fatigue and lowered velocity from the big right-hander.
On Ohtani’s second pitch of the game, J.P. Crawford took advantage of a 92 mph fastball sitting in the middle of the plate, pounding it over the wall in right-center for his third homer of the season.
Crawford pushed the lead to 2-0 in the third inning. Taylor Trammell led off with a double to right field. Donovan Walton sacrifice bunted Trammell to third and Crawford scored him with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Angels answered in the bottom half of the inning against Mariners spot starter Robert Dugger.
Taking the place of Justin Dunn, who was placed on the injured list Wednesday with shoulder inflammation, Dugger used a key double play to escape a second inning that seemed doomed for multiple runs.
But he gave up a one-out single to David Fletcher in the third inning and then hung a first-pitch curveball to Justin Upton that was deposited into the visitor’s bullpen of Angels Stadium to make it 2-2.
Lefty Daniel Zamora finished the third inning for Dugger, walking Ohtani and then getting an inning-ending double play.
With Ohtani dealing and limiting damage to everyone other than Crawford, the Angels took the lead in the fourth inning when Jose Rojas took advantage of a 1-1 fastball that lefty Hector Santiago, who replaced Zamora, left over the middle of the plate. Rojas hit a line drive just barely over the wall in right field and into the seats.
Even Rojas wasn’t a sure it was a homer and stopped at second base before being told it was his third homer of the season.
While Servais hates to have to use the bullpen start and fans loathe it even more, five pitchers combined to work eight innings, giving up the three runs on six hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. That’s still a winnable start.
“You’re hoping for three guys to get us six innings tonight to keep us in the ballgame and that’s exactly what they did,” Servais said. “It is a quality start. It just took a couple of more guys to get there. I felt really good about our chances of winning that game. We just couldn’t quite push anything across the plate there. Again I give Iglesias a ton of credit. Doesn’t get any tougher spot to come in and have to execute pitches.”
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