The important thing to remember is this: the Angels were supposed to be contenders all along. They had just spent one gajillion dollars to acquire last year’s RBI leader Anthony Rendon, adding him to a lineup which already consisted of a Japanese two-way sensation, a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, the David Eckstein Memorial Peskiest Hitter in baseball, a two-way threat shortstop, and the literal Best Player in Baseball, 2013 - present. Pitching, who needs pitching with such a lineup, but the Angels went ahead and acquired Dylan Bundy anyway, a good, safe choice, if not Gerrit Cole-level exciting. Oh yeah, and they also had the second-best prospect in baseball looming in Triple-A. Yes indeed, these Angels were set up for success, not just in this weird little season but for years to come.
Except, flash forward to halfway through this season and last night Tommy La Stella was on #hugwatch as the Angels suddenly converted into sellers. At the time, they had the distinction of being the worst team in baseball, worse even than the objectively terrible Pirates. Meanwhile, the Mariners were fresh off a sweep of the Rangers and one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad inning away from a sweep of the red-hot Padres. The Angels defeated the Mariners last night; tonight they smoked the Mariners, forcibly re-arranging the heavenly spheres to suit the pre-season prognostications, making the Mariners look like...well, the Angels of late.
It didn’t start off badly. J.P. Crawford led off the game with a double, but the Mariners couldn’t push anything across against Dylan Bundy. In the bottom of the first, Justus Sheffield gave up an RBI double to Anthony Rendon after Trout reached on an infield hit, a play that might have been mitigated by better play from “I’m not a left fielder” Sam Haggerty, but when it’s Trout, well, only the best play will do.
Except Trout made a rare misplay in the next inning, when Jose Marmolejos clocked a ball over his head:
and Tim Lopes doubled on a Haniger-esque sharp drive down the left field line to tie the game. Tim Lopes is the Mariners hero for tonight, remember this later.
Unfortunately, that would be the closest this game would be, as each team suddenly remembered who they were supposed to be prior to the season. Justus Sheffield didn’t have his best stuff tonight, struggling both with command and the sharpness of his slider, which wound up belt-high more often than it did diving back-foot. Not having the devastating slider meant Sheffield relied more on his changeup tonight, which he made a mistake with, throwing it at the bottom of the zone for Jo Adell’s first big-league homer and an Angels 3-1 lead. Sheffield would avenge himself with this filthy strikeout later in the fourth:
Things would fall apart pretty well for the Mariners in the fifth, when Sheffield, never pinpoint with his command tonight, began to utterly labor, giving up a single and three walks. Blessings upon Joey Gerber’s curly head but he was not able to magically spin the Mariners out of this mess, giving up an RBI single to Albert Pujols to push the Angels’ lead to 6-1.
Things got worse from there. Aaron Fletcher again struggled to command the strike zone, giving up Adell’s second career homer, hitting Anthony Bemboom, walking Ohtani, and then serving up a two-RBI double to Trout. Fletcher was replaced by Zac Grotz, who labored through two more walks before punching out Jo Adell on a call I have no problem with saying as a Mariners fan was pretty bullshit. Don’t worry; karma came for Grotz in the next inning, and then some, at the hands of an Ohtani RBI groundout and a three-run homer off Mike Trout. For all the unwritten rules of baseball talk I feel like leaving Mike Trout in to face the Mariners in a game with a ten-run deficit should be on that list, if we’re going to have a list. That made the score 14-1, and made me reach for a mid-recap glass of wine. Or two. Or three? To be honest I have no idea how long the sixth and seventh innings took, but they felt like however long March and April felt this year.
The Mariners were able to scrape one more run across off Kenyan Middleton, who isn’t even one of the Angels relievers I hate, thanks to Braden Bishop driving in Dee Gordon, as the Mariners, at least, were giving their starters a rest at this time. Also given a rest: Mariners pitchers, as Tim Lopes toed the mound in the eighth. He allowed another two runs to score, for a final tally of 16-2.
But wait! Shed Long says excuse me I’m not done yet! Luke Bard threw 95 middle-middle to Shed and said “hit it” and Shed said “okay I will.”
sucky game, but Shed Long is always here to be the sunshine on your shoulder: pic.twitter.com/wgdFTiucLa— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) August 30, 2020
Thank you Shed for providing a little nugget of gold at the bottom of the poo pie that was this game.
Despite this being a best possible outcomes dream game for the Angels, I’m not calling this a nightmare game for the Mariners. There have been so many bad games, you see. No one got hurt, that’s the baseline. And in 2020, “no one got hurt” is enough.