Freese, Wilson power Angels past Paxton, Mariners
SEATTLE -- C.J. Wilson threw eight shutout innings and David Freese blasted a two-run home run on Tuesday as the Angels defeated the Mariners, 2-0, at Safeco Field.
Mariners left-hander James Paxton allowed two runs on four hits over six innings, but suffered his first loss in eight Safeco Field starts thanks to Freese's opposite-field shot in the fourth inning.
Wilson gave up just a pair of singles -- to Nelson Cruz and Rickie Weeks -- and retired the last 17 batters he faced while improving to 16-8 in his career against the Mariners.
"We seem to always catch him on a good night," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "He's been tough on us, and tonight was no different. He really hit his spots pretty good."
Once Huston Street recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his first save, the Angels evened the season-opening three-game series and snapped a five-game losing streak against the Mariners that dates back to the end of last season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Wilson dominant in debut: Wilson's hope for a bounceback season got off to a flying start, with eight scoreless, pitch-efficient innings on a cool night in Seattle. The 34-year-old left-hander had a 6.04 ERA in his last 16 regular-season starts in 2014, then exited Game 3 of the American League Division Series after just six batters. On Tuesday, Wilson needed only 96 pitches to record 24 outs, giving up two hits and walking one. More >
Freese goes deep: Freese hit his first home run of the season at Safeco Field last year, too. This year, it just came a little earlier. In 2014, it took place in the Angels' eighth game of the season. In 2015, it came in the second one, a good sign as Freese hopes to get off to a better start. The 31-year-old third baseman is the Angels' cleanup hitter against lefties, and they need him to produce in those situations.
"The feeling I feel right now is taking [Spring Training] straight into this," Freese said. "It's been a while since I felt like this. I'm just trying to be positive and have good at-bats and help this club. It's nice early in the season to help the team."
Chilly night for Mariners' offense: Seattle mounted only one threat against Wilson, when Cruz singled leading off the second and Justin Ruggiano worked a one-out walk. But that rally ended quickly when Logan Morrison hit into a fielder's-choice grounder and Mike Zunino flied out to right. The Mariners didn't get a runner on base after Weeks' one-out single in the third.
That was quick: Mariners rookie left-hander Tyler Olson made his Major League debut in the top of the ninth and recorded two outs with one pitch, as he got Erick Aybar to hit into a 5-4-3 double play on his first offering. Olson, a 25-year-old making the jump from Double-A ball, had the ball in his locker afterward, and a memory -- albeit a quick one -- that he won't forget the rest of his career. More >
"He looks like he's throwing darts. He was painting real well on the outside corner, on both lefties and righties. He has four pitches, but if he can spot all of them, it's more like eight pitches, inside-outside, inside-outside, with whatever. He was doing a good job of that tonight." -- Mariners first baseman Morrison on Wilson
"It's going to be important to us, especially with us waiting for [Garrett Richards] to come back. It's going to be important to our rotation and our team. He's confident. I think you're going to see a more consistent, better overall year than last year." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia, on the importance of Wilson replicating his success from 2013
If Tuesday was any indication, Scioscia won't be using utility infielder Taylor Featherston as a late-game defensive replacement. With the Angels leading by two late, Johnny Giavotella remained at second and Freese -- subbed out for John McDonald late in games last year -- remained at third. It looks like Featherston will only play late in games if Scioscia uses a pinch-hitter for one of his infielders.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Wilson threw 65.6 percent of his pitches for strikes on Tuesday, after sporting a Major League-low strike percentage of 58.4 last year. He also threw only 12 pitches per inning against the Mariners, a big improvement from the 17.7 he averaged per inning last year -- third-worst in baseball.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker, undrafted seven years ago, came out of nowhere to finish second in American League Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2014, going 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA and a 5.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Shoemaker officially begins the follow-up to his rookie season when the 28-year-old right-hander starts the series finale against the Mariners at Safeco Field on Wednesday. Game time is 7:10 p.m. PT on MLB.TV and Fox Sports West.
Mariners: Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma gets the start in the series finale Wednesday. The 33-year-old from Japan is 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 10 games, including nine starts, against the Angels. He was 1-1 with a 5.94 ERA in three starts against the Halos in 2014. The 7:10 p.m. PT game will be on MLB.TV and ROOT Sports.