The pitcher the Mariners like to call the “quiet assassin” heard nothing but loud contact against the Los Angeles Angels and the resulting timbre was a resonating defeat.
Young right-hander Ljay Newsome, who was making his first start of the season in place of injured lefty Nick Margevicius, who was inserted into Seattle’s six-man rotation as a replacement for the injured James Paxton, suffered through the worst start of his brief MLB career and ended the Mariners’ hopes for a victory before the sun could even set Saturday evening in the Puget Sound.
Newsome barely made it through two innings, giving up eight runs on seven hits, including three home runs in what would eventually be a 10-5 loss to the Angels that wasn’t that close.
“We saw the power that the Angels have in their lineup,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It showed up tonight. They were all over Ljay Newsome in the first and second inning.”
Los Angeles banged out 13 hits, and clubbed a total of four homers to even the three-game series at one apiece.
“We love what Ljay does,” Servais said. “He attacks the strike zone. He’s gonna go right after people. But if he’s not locating and getting that secondary pitch to kind of get them off the fastball a little bit, it’s a struggle.”
With a relatively straight fastball that averages around 90-92 mph, Newsome doesn’t have the luxury of weathering wandering command. It’s why most scouts and projections classify him as a long reliever/spot starter at his peak and believing he’s a “Quad A” pitcher, which means good at the Triple-A level but not good enough for consistent success at the MLB level.
Regardless of labels, the Mariners (15-13) don’t have much for choices in the upper levels of the organization to find a replacement beyond top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert. And the Mariners are being cautious with his buildup in the minor leagues before making his MLB debut some time this season.
After striking out David Fletcher to start the game, Newsome walked Shohei Ohtani and left a 2-2 fastball over the middle of the plate to the absolute wrong hitter. Mike Trout, who came into the game with a .425/.523/.781 slash line with eight doubles, six homers, 14 RBI, 14 walks and 23 strikeouts in 21 games, crushed it over the wall in center for his seventh homer of the season.
It was Trout’s 47th homer in his 167th game vs. the Mariners, while pushing his RBI total in those games to 121. It was his 28th homer in 83 games at T-Mobile Park.
With two outs in the inning, Jared Walsh cracked a solo homer to left field that made it 3-0.
“I was finishing a lot of them in the middle of the plate,” Newsome said of his pitches. “That’s not my game. They usually stay to the edges, but I kind of fell right in the middle tonight.”
Newsome’s start went from bad to over in the second.
He gave up two singles to start the inning. And with one out and the bases loaded, thanks to an intentional walk of Trout, Anthony Rendon cleared the bases with a double to deep left-center that made it 6-0. Walsh made it two homers in two plate appearances off Newsome, hammering a first-pitch fastball over the wall in right for a two-run homer to make it 8-0.
“When the command’s not perfect, I just have to mix it up more,” Newsome said. “I was throwing a lot of fastballs just right down the middle. I should’ve just mixed it up a lot more instead of just trying to rely on that fastball command, which I didn’t have.”
That’s the line the Mariners walk with Newsome. They know the command has to be there for any sort of success. And when it isn’t, these outings will occur. Because his stuff isn’t quite good enough to have hitters miss his mistakes.
“Ljay lives at the top of the strike zone,” Servais aid. “But if it gets in that happy zone where it’s not quite at the at the top of the zone or a little bit higher, that’s when it gets in trouble. He is a flyball pitcher. The ball is gonna go up in the air when he does get squared up for the most part. And that’s what you saw tonight.”
The Mariners bullpen had to piece together the final seven innings.
Robert Dugger pitched three innings, giving up two hits, including a two-run homer to Rendon. Keynan Middleton pitched two scoreless innings while right-hander Wyatt Mills pitched a scoreless frame in his MLB debut and Domingo Tapia pitched a scoreless inning in his first outing with the Mariners.
The Mariners offense did little against Angels starter Griffin Canning, who pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. He threw 93 pitches with 61 strikes, including 23 pitches that were swings and misses.
The Mariners only run against Canning came on an RBI double from J.P. Crawford in the third inning.
The Mariners added on two more runs in the eighth inning on a two-run single from Dylan Moore. In the ninth inning, Mitch Haniger smashed a two-run homer to deep left-center to make it 10-5. It was Haniger’s seventh homer. He has homered in back-to-back games after missing the final two games of the previous series in Houston.