Worst game of the year? Well... I can’t say I can think of another off the top of my head.
Things actually started out okay, with Dee Gordon legging out an infield hit and reaching second on an errant scoop from Tyler Skaggs.
While a Jean Segura popout and Mitch Haniger strikeout had the bats quickly on the ropes, Nelson Cruz worked a walk, and Kyle Seager lined a base hit through the shift to score Dee. Skaggs would bear down to turn away Ryon Healy on strikes, but the M’s made him labor for 27 pitches. With the Big Maple taking the mound against an Angels team who’s struggled against lefty starters all season, things still looked pretty alright.
Instead, they unraveled almost immediately. David Fletcher drilled Paxton’s second pitch - an utter mistake of a 1-0 cutter - over the left-field wall for his first big-league home run. Andrelton Simmons lined out hard to left, Mike Trout checked in with a base hit, and while James did get Justin Upton looking for the second out, something was clearly amiss. His velocity was down a couple ticks, topping out at just 95.4 MPH on his fastball, his cutter had little break, and the curve was thrown exactly once in the span of four batters.
Well, Pax has started out slow in games before ramping it up in later innings. Hopefully it’s just one of those starts. Sure would be nice to get Albert Pujols out quickly...
UGH. Well, he’s been hit hard in the first inning before, just get Ian Kinsler and put this behind us.
oh please no
Paxton’s early exit forced Chasen Bradford into 2.1 innings of work, in which he gave up just one run. It also resulted in by far the saddest pitch chart I’ve produced all season:
Thankfully, Paxton appears to have nothing seriously wrong, as it was quickly reported that he exited due to back stiffness. It still wouldn’t surprise me to see him miss a start or two post All-Star Break, though - he’s nearing a career-high in innings, and I imagine the club would like to pump the brakes a bit both on him and Marco Gonzales starting soon. It never hurts to be cautious.
Tonight was a good opportunity for the lesser-used arms in the bullpen to get some work, as Bradford, Nick Vincent, Juan Nicasio, Nick Rumbelow, and Roenis Elías all saw action tonight. Vincent and Elías were able to keep the Angels at bay, Nicasio again widened the gap between his ERA and FIP by way of surrendering a run despite striking out two, and Rumbelow...
The M’s couldn’t get anything going off of Skaggs or Noé Ramirez, and were again sent away runless in the top of the eighth. Elías had pitched the seventh, and although a 9-1 lead is sizable, it usually isn’t a wacky-level blowout. No reason for your long reliever not to finish the game, right?
Romine did top out at 88 MPH and retired Mike Trout on a lazy flyout, so there was a little fun to be had here. Ian Kinsler added on two runs with a single to left, but that was all the Angels would get from the position player pitching. Well done?
Guillermo Heredia roped a double into the left-field corner to score Denard Span, but that was the last gasp from the Mariner bats. By run differential, this was their worst loss since the 10-0 drubbing from the Royals on the eighth game of the season. Doesn’t that feel like at least a year ago? What a wild ride this has been.
Christian Bergman goes for revenge against the Rockies at Coors Field tomorrow. Expect a few roster moves in the morning for additional relief help. The All-Star Break is just a few days, and it looks like the team - and we - are going to need it.