Sometimes you head out and start your day and you just know it’s not gonna be a good one - the common metaphor is “got up on the wrong side of the bed”, but I’ve never liked that one. After all, I get out of bed on the right every day, and that hasn’t had much, if any impact on whatever happens after. Nah, it’s usually more intuitive than that. Like how even though Ljay Newsome started his night by freezing David Fletcher on a 94 MPH fastball, we knew what lurked behind him. Shohei Ohtani wrestled a nine-pitch walk before stealing a base - and really, that should have sounded some alarms as to how Ljay’s night would go - and Mike Trout did what Mike Trout does.
Sorry you had to see that. It didn’t get much better, either, with Jared Walsh cranking a solo shot with two outs, but at least Newsome stopped the bleeding there my coaxing a flyout out of Old Man Pujols. Three runs isn’t that bad! Just settle down and let the bats work against Griffin Canning, the guy who came in tonight with a FIP of 7.01. Surely they can get back into it quickly!
Alas, they did not. Canning made quick work of Mitch Haniger, Ty France, and Kyle Seager - France looked particularly silly waving at strike three - and the Angels got right back to business in the second. Ljay’s stuff wasn’t fooling a soul, and after touching 94 a few times in the first, never sniffed past 93. José Iglesias and Max Stassi opened with consecutive singles, and Fletcher failed to bunt for a base hit but succeeded in moving the runners. A sacrifice bunt is an okay consolation prize for pain in the asses like him. Ohtani brought another run home with a groundout to first, and with first base open, Newsome (ok, probably Scott Servais) opted to put Trout on. Throughout Servais’s tenure, he’s been pretty stingy with intentional walks - since 2016, he’s only called for it 114 times, and tonight was just the third time in 2021. Look, I get it. We’ve all seen the incredible start Trout has gotten off to, and we know all too well what he’s done to the Mariners over the years, especially in this ballpark.
Most Home Runs at T-Mobile/Safeco, since 2011— Foolish Baseball (@FoolishBB) May 2, 2021
1) Kyle Seager 81 HR
2) Nelson Cruz 77 HR
3) Robinson Cano 56 HR
4) Mike Zunino 48 HR
5) Mike Trout 28 HR
About two minutes later, though, I was thinking that they maybe should have tried pitching to him.
Literally one pitch later, and this game had officially entered “shut off in disgust” territory.
Thanks to a nice running grab by Haniger, Ljay didn’t do any worse, but tonight was a huge step back for his hopes to stick in the rotation. He threw 47 pitches, and while he pumped plenty of strikes, he only generated three swings and misses - all on the fastball. His changeup looked flat and lifeless, and the numbers backed that up, with its CSW% on the night being 0.0%. And look at all this hard contact!
The velo drop was pretty disappointing, too, especially after some early 94s. Newsome can still help out a major league team in the bullpen as is, but if he has any hope of sticking as a starter, he needs to either consistently hang out at 93-94 or refine his secondaries. Both would be even better!
Of course, the mirror of this is that Griffin Canning had a night for the ages. Giving up just one unearned run (as an aside, Anaheim’s first base defense was very funny to watch tonight. It matters!) on a J.P. Crawford double (!) hit at 103.3 MPH (!!!), he carved up the M’s lineup, striking out nine while only allowing a trio of hits and a pair of walks. Remember how I said Newsome didn’t miss many bats and couldn’t land his secondaries for strikes? Well...
Griffin Canning’s 23 whiffs tonight are the most he has ever gotten in a big league start, and his 40 percent CSW% is also the highest he’s ever had in an outing. Good stuff.— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) May 2, 2021
If you’re really hunting for a silver lining, there were a few from tonight! The bullpen once again turned in a solid performance - Robert Dugger gave up a two-run shot to Rendon in the fourth, but other than that they kept the Angels off the board. We even got to see a big league debut! Wyatt Mills, he of Spokane roots and Gonzaga pride, worked a perfect top of the eighth, and his sidearm, death to righties potential was on display from the very first pitch he threw.
If offense is more your thing, the bats woke up a bit in the last two innings. Old friend Steve Cishek ran into some trouble in the eighth: despite getting a wild double play out of defensive replacement Sam Haggerty with no outs and two on, Kyle Lewis checked in with an infield single, José Marmolejos worked a four-pitch walk, and Dylan Moore continued to break out of his deep slump:
Domingo Tapia worked around a couple singles to fire a scoreless ninth in his Mariner debut, and there was one final treat in store for everyone who stuck around this one. J.P. capped off a strong game with a one-out single the other way, and Haniger one-upped him with an absolute shot.
110 off the bat and 424 feet looks beautiful every time. Who cares that France and Haggerty went down on strikes to end the game with a whimper, or that Taylor Trammell had the first golden sombrero of his career? We saw some good relieving - I didn’t even mention Keynan Middleton throwing two scoreless innings against his hated former club, and his fastball had some extra zip on it to boot - a Major League debut that went well, some nice defensive plays, and a blast from Mitch. Giving up ten runs is never pretty, but the fact that this ended with a score closer to “comfortable win for the Angels” rather than “look Sam Haggerty pitched!” is something worth enjoying. And really, it should be a quick turnaround, with Justus Sheffield going against Dylan Bundy in about fourteen hours. A series win - or should I say a meatloaf? Are 2016 LL memes ancient history at this point? - is still in reach. It’s just up to them to grab it.