Mariners fail to make their own luck, lose 7-1 to Angels

This is going to be short and to the point because I am low on computer battery and high on annoyance: the Mariners lost the second game of today’s doubleheader, after barely scraping out a 2-1 win earlier today and laying an egg on Friday night in front of a big home crowd. Splitting a series against the lowly Angels is now the best-case scenario for a team that was riding high coming in on a series win against the Yankees. From king-killer to bottom-dweller grappler, I guess? There’s nothing really good to say, but let’s dissect this particularly ugly frog nonetheless:

Problem the first: starting pitching

As the season wears on, it’s starting to become apparent that the pixie dust covering the weaker parts of Seattle’s rotation is starting to wear thin. Marco Gonzales—who starts tomorrow, fun!—has already had his share of Great and Powerful Oz curtain-pulling moments; now it feels like fellow soft-contact wizard Chris Flexen might be close behind. Flexen didn’t have perfect command today, but it’s hard to get mad at him about Magneuris Sierra swinging at this pitch in an 0-2 count in the third inning:

somehow making contact for a base hit (exit velocity: a grand 50 MPH). Likewise, Flexen’s 2-2 fastball to Taylor Ward wasn’t a bad pitch, location-wise, but wound up a solidly-stroked double and a 1-0 lead for the Angels.

Whatever; that’s bad luck. Less bad luck was a Max Stassi single on a cutter that wound up in the middle of the plate:

No, Chris! Bad Chris! That gave the Angels a 2-0 lead in the third that was extended the next inning on a solo home run by [checks notes] Mickey Monique? Oh Chris, no. The former top prospect, claimed off waivers by the Angels, is hitting a grand .135 this season, with an .077 ISO. Were he qualified, that would be the eighth-worst ISO in all of baseball, behind Andrew Benintendi but slightly ahead of Steven Kwan. Bad vibes!

Problem the second: offensive offense

Meanwhile, the offense scrambled to get going against Angels starter Reid Detmers. Detmers is known for his curveball, anointed the best breaking ball in the 2020 draft, but he split the majority of his pitches between the fastball and slider tonight, throwing each around 40% of the time, while fading the curve to only about a 20 % usage. However, the Mariners couldn’t do anything with any of his pitches, turning in yet another sluggish offensive performance—their third in as many games. They finally jumped on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Luis Torrens hit his first home run of the season:

Here’s hoping this is the beginning of a Torrens hot stretch (he would also have a single later in the game). Power has never really been Torrens’ problem, so his struggles have been curious, but maybe he’s finally finding his offensive groove. Unfortunately, the offense fell flat after that, despite a Sam Haggerty double that almost cleared the wall, and that was the only run the Mariners could scrape across in this entire game.

Problem the third: no, seriously, really?

The Angels then got that running back and then some, when…David Fletcher? took Flexen deep in the sixth. David Fletcher? Mr. No-Barrels? Ouch. Worse than that, there was one on, so suddenly a manageable 3-1 deficit became a 5-1 deficit. Even worse than that, this was some more bad luck for the Mariners:

David Fletcher has 14 career home runs—for context, Cal Raleigh has 15 this season—and half of them have come at T-Mobile Park. Feels bad, man.

The Mariners had another chance against a tired Detmers in the seventh; JP and Luis Torrens both singled, but with two outs, Sam Haggerty couldn’t go hero mode despite pushing a very tired Detmers (105 pitches!) to a full count.

(I am not including any more runs the Angels scored, because they were scored against human white flag Brennan Bernardino. Some of the hits were good, some lucky, what does it matter, the Mariners were in apparently an insurmountable offensive hole from the third inning on here.)

Problem the fourth: The luck of the lefties

So there’s a narrative that the Mariners are bad against lefty pitching, but really, they grade out about equally against righty and lefty pitching. Tonight, however, the offense was utterly stymied by Reid Detmers and Ryan Tepera, both lefties. The Mariners just couldn’t come up with that clutch hit that the Angels seemingly got, against all odds [cue Phil Collins]. It’s frustrating, because the Mariners shouldn’t be flailing so hard against the Angels, and it’s even more frustrating on a marquee night at home after dropping a game in extras last night in front of a huge crowd. You can’t lose a playoff spot over a weekend, as the LL staff has reminded me multiple times this weekend, but you can surely put yourself in a better place to get one, and so far, the Mariners have failed on that front.

Problem the fifth: Offense when and where?

The Mariners made just marginal upgrades, position-player-wise, at the trade deadline; one of the big arguments for doing so was the return of players from the IL. Tonight Mitch Haniger returned, going 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout; Kyle Lewis was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and easily had the worst outing of the night, although he did have some nice catches out in left field. It’s still early to see how these players will respond after being on the shelf for so long. Meanwhile, Luis Torrens, who was theoretically replaced at the trade deadline, plated the Mariners’ only run of the night. Draw your own conclusions! My computer is about to die.

So I can end this recap on a bright note before the screen goes black: if you’re looking for bright-side-y things, Matt Brash had an excellent inning of relief in the seventh. The slider looked especially bitey, and he absolutely ate Shohei’s lunch on this slider:

The old saying is that it’s better to be lucky than good, but in this game, at this level, most of the time you have to be lucky oath good. The Mariners were neither tonight, and they’ll have to be better tomorrow, and for the rest of the season, especially when playing against teams who are theoretically their lesser.

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