SEATTLE -- On a day Felix Hernandez wasn't particularly sharp, the Mariners ran into the best of Shohei Ohtani and Michael Trout. And the result was predictable, an 8-2 Angels victory on Sunday as Seattle lost just its second series of the season.Ohtani had been up and down in his
SEATTLE -- On a day Felix Hernandez wasn't particularly sharp, the Mariners ran into the best of Shohei Ohtani and Michael Trout. And the result was predictable, an 8-2 Angels victory on Sunday as Seattle lost just its second series of the season.
Ohtani had been up and down in his first four starts in the Majors, but the 23-year-old Japanese phenom brought his 'A' game to Safeco Field as he befuddled the Mariners for six scoreless innings before allowing a two-run homer to Ryon Healy in the seventh.
The only consolation the Mariners took from this one was that they had better at-bats the more they saw of Ohtani, who threw 98 pitches in his first mound start since April 24 due to a minor ankle sprain.
"Anytime you have someone that throws that electric of stuff, different pitches moving all sorts of ways, the second and third time around are always better," Healy said. "You kind of see where pitches may end up, what they look like out of hand. We're going to have to use that and do some more studying in the video we just had out there today for the next time."
Ohtani caught some boos from Safeco Field fans who weren't happy he cast his lot with the rival Angels after being wooed hard by the Mariners last winter. But his motivation came in showing the Mariners they weren't wrong in their evaluation.
"I'm very thankful that this team was pursuing me," Ohtani said. "It was very humbling to hear that. Of course, I want to pitch good against, not just this team, but every other team that was pursuing me to show them that they weren't wrong with their scouting. I wanted to show them a good game."
Ohtani finished his six-plus innings with two runs on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. The much-ballyhooed rookie is now 3-1 with a 4.10 ERA on the mound to go along with his .339 batting average and four homers in 20 games at designated hitter.
Trout only holds down one position, but he handles that fairly well. The two-time American League MVP went 3-for-4 with a walk and stolen base and broke things open with a three-run homer in the sixth on Chasen Bradford's first pitch in relief of Hernandez. It was Trout's 12th homer of the season and he hiked his average from .297 to .336 after going 9-for-14 with three doubles, a triple and home run in the three-game series.
"You can't make mistakes against Mike Trout. He will make you pay," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "For whatever reason, there were some balls in the middle of the plate and he doesn't miss 'em. It's a credit to him. He was in the middle of everything all series. He's got a little better supporting cast around him this year and we have to certainly do a better job against him going forward this season."
Hernandez (4-3, 5.28 ERA) gave up a pair of solo homers in the second to Zack Cozart and Chris Young and finished his 5 2/3 innings start with five runs allowed on seven hits and four walks.
"I just need to keep the ball in the ballpark," Hernandez said. "That's all I need to do. From now on, that's my goal. I need to keep it out of the middle and not make any mistakes. Because the last four games, I've given up homers every game. That can't happen."
Seattle wrapped up a six-game homestand at 3-3 and 19-14 overall and now sits 1 1/2 games back of the Angels, who moved past the Astros into sole possession of first in the AL West at 21-13. The Mariners are 7-2-2 in their first 11 series, the lone losing sets coming against the Angels and Astros.
Kyle Seager had two of the six hits off Ohtani, while Healy's homer was his fifth in the past eight games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hernandez would have been out of the sixth inning trailing just 2-0 when he struck out Young for the third out. But his curveball in the dirt bounced away from catcher Mike Zunino and Young reached base on the wild pitch.
"That curveball bounced way in front of the plate," Hernandez said. "Z couldn't do anything about that. It wasn't his fault. That was my fault. So it's frustrating."
Next thing you know, Rene Rivera doubled in Young, Ian Kinsler walked and Hernandez was replaced by Bradford, who gave up the first-pitch homer to Trout. And, bingo, 2-0 turned into 6-0.
Healy was hitting .091 with no homers in his first seven games before going on the disabled list with a sprained ankle. Since his return, he's hit .333 (13-for-39) with five homers and 11 RBIs in 10 games to raise his average to .246.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Mariners didn't give Hernandez much run support, but they did supply plenty of love with the gloves, making several excellent defensive plays to help him work through the considerable Angels traffic. Seager made several key plays, including a smart 8-5-4 out when Justin Upton went first-to-third on a single by Luis Valbuena in the fifth. Seager had to leap high to snare Dee Gordon's throw from center, but caught the ball and fired an off-balance throw as he was landing on his back foot to nail Valbuena trying to advance to second.
"It was a tough play for Dee because Upton got right in his line and he had to go up over the top," Seager said. "I saw Valbuena moving out of the corner of my eye, so it was just, take a shot, and fortunately it worked out pretty well. [Robinson Cano] made a pretty quick tag on it as well. I told Skip that was my extreme athleticism. He didn't think it was as funny as I did, I don't think."
SEGURA REMOVED DUE TO HEADACHE
Mariners shortstop Jean Segura was replaced by utility man Andrew Romine in the eighth inning due to a migraine after going hitless in his four at-bats.
"I don't know if he was dehydrated or what," Servais said. "Obviously we had the long [11-inning] game last night and he was really scuffling to get through the game. He hung in there as long as he could. We figured we'd get him out of there. I think he'll be OK getting some rest and be back in Toronto."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Angels won a key replay challenge in the fifth when Ben Gamel was initially ruled safe after going first to third on a single by Gordon on back-to-back base hits off Ohtani. But Gamel slid late into the bag to beat a hard throw from Trout and replay showed Gamel came off the bag while being tagged by Cozart. The reversal resulted in the third out of the inning and ended the Mariners' first real threat against Ohtani. Even though he wasn't able to fully set himself, Trout's throw clocked 91.7 mph, per Statcast™.
The Mariners open a seven-game trip Tuesday at 4:07 p.m. PT in Toronto as James Paxton (1-1, 4.19 ERA) returns to his native Canada, fresh off a career-high 16 strikeouts and seven scoreless innings against the A's. The 29-year-old lefty is 2-2 with a 6.86 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays, having won his last two at Rogers Centre while allowing just seven hits and three runs in 13 innings. Toronto counters with righty Marcus Stroman (0-4, 7.52 ERA).
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.