Dunn shows mettle in shaking off rocky 1st

August 5th, 2020

SEATTLE -- A night after Justus Sheffield saw a promising start derailed by a rough fifth inning, fellow Mariners rookie took the opposite approach in Seattle’s 5-3 loss Tuesday to the Angels.

Dunn got his bad frame out of the way early -- giving up home runs to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in a three-run first -- before smoothing things out with three scoreless innings and a better feeling following his second start of the season.

The 24-year-old right-hander landed a starting role when the Mariners decided to go with a six-man rotation following MLB’s 3 1/2-month shutdown to lighten the load on pitchers who didn’t have their normal time to build up arm strength upon their return.

So far the club’s No. 8 ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline, has faced the Angels twice and is ready to see some different uniforms after going 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA over seven innings in those outings. Dunn’s next start is lined up for Monday against the Rangers in Arlington.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” Dunn said of facing the same team back-to-back. “That lineup has a bunch of bangers top to bottom. It’s a very stacked lineup. I knew I’d have my work cut out for me again. I tried to be a little too cute in that first inning and got in some bad counts, trying to use some sequences a little differently than the first time I faced them. I fell behind and had to come in the zone and you do that against hitters like that, they make you pay.”

After needing 37 pitches to get through the first inning, the former Boston College standout didn’t allow a hit and needed just 39 pitches to get through the next three frames, retiring his final seven batters in a row.

“It was more of a mentality thing,” he said. “I got away from attacking the zone. They are a patient lineup. I thought they’d come out more aggressive on the fastballs in the first inning and I could use that more and use the breaking balls for more chase pitches. But they didn’t really chase much out of the zone. In the second, I got back to filling it up early with the breaking ball and then pitched off the fastball and slider.”

Servais said Dunn came out over-amped to face Trout & Co. in the nationally televised ESPN game, but settled in after the first.

“He started to pitch,” Servais said. “Early in the game, when you see guys missing that bad and four-pitch walks after the Trout homer, you kind of get out of whack. That’s part of the maturing process.”

Dunn isn’t the first Mariners pitcher to give up a long ball to Trout, who now has 42 career homers against Seattle, his most against any team. This one came in his first game back from a four-game paternity leave after his wife gave birth to their first child.

“I was hoping now that Trout was a dad, the dad bod might have snuck up on him,” Servais said. “But obviously that was not the case.”

Pujols also has hit his share. The veteran slugger now is one shy of Willie Mays for fifth on the all-time home run list with 659.

Meanwhile, went 2-for-4 with a double and solo homer, was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs and rookie started a new hit streak with an eighth-inning double, but Seattle totaled just six hits in falling to 4-8.

Moore grew up just a few miles from Anaheim Stadium and his parents were Angels season-ticket holders, so he enjoys playing against his hometown club, and both his home runs this season have come against them.

“I grew up watching the Angels and went to games watching Mike Trout play,” Moore said. “It’s definitely cool playing against them.”