One day after impressive opener, Seattle bats limited to just two singles
On a typically chilly April evening at Safeco Field, maybe it made sense that the hottest shot of the night was hit by a guy named Freese.
A two-run home run by Los Angeles Angels third baseman David Freese in the top of the fourth inning was all the scoring the visitors would need to beat the Mariners 2-0 in front of a crowd of 26,454.
It was a stark contrast to the sun-draped optimism of opening day, when the Mariners beat the Angels 4-1 in a game that only heightened the hype for a Seattle team picked by some to get to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.
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Tuesday, meanwhile, showed there’s still a long way to go to get to October.
On this night, anyway, Seattle’s revamped and hopefully improved offense looked painfully familiar to some more recent units in going down meekly against Angels’ starting left-hander C.J. Wilson, who allowed just two hits in eight innings, both singles.
Wilson hardly overpowered the Mariners, striking out just two. But his mix of curveballs, sliders, changeups and fastballs kept the Mariners off-balance throughout as he induced 13 ground-ball outs and retired the last 17 batters he faced as the Angels needed just two hours, 13 minutes to even the season record for each team at 1-1.
It was an act Seattle has seen all-too-often from Wilson as he improved to 16-8 against the Mariners since 2005 — the most victories by any pitcher against Seattle in that span. His eight victories at Safeco since 2006 are the most for any visiting pitcher.
“We always seem to catch him on a good night,’’ said Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon. “He’s been tough against us. Tonight was no different. He really hit his spots pretty good.’’
Seattle starter James Paxton was hardly bad, allowing just four hits and two runs in six innings with five strikeouts and a walk.
But one mistake was all it took the way Wilson was pitching, and that came on a 1-0 fastball in the fourth with Albert Pujols aboard that Freese hit 396 feet over the wall in right-center.
“Left that fastball up and away to him and that’s where he hits the ball hard,’’ Paxton said. “I was trying to go down and away, and I left it up.’’
Freese’s blast came after Seattle had gotten two on with one out in the second and failed to score, with a Logan Morrison ground out and a Mike Zunino fly out ending the threat.
“Early we had an opportunity to get some runs across and it didn’t happen and he settled in,’’ Morrison said of Wilson. “He has four pitches, but when he can spot all of them it’s more like eight pitches, inside and outside.’’
Seattle would get just one more base runner after the failed opportunity in the second.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said it was the best Wilson, an 11-year veteran, had thrown since the middle of last season.
“I think it points to the fact that he’s healthy,’’ Scioscia said of Wilson, who dealt with an ankle injury last season. “You can’t really command the ball better than C.J. did. … Unbelievable game.’’
Right-hander Huston Street came on to get the save, striking out Rickie Weeks — whose one-out single in the third was the last hit the M’s would get — and Austin Jackson, and then getting Robinson Cano on a fly to right to end the game.
That made the middle of the Seattle order — Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager — 1 for 10 on the night and 2 for 22 for the season.
Seattle paid handsomely to get the right-handed hitting Cruz to try to limit nights like this against left-handed pitchers.
But McClendon said the only statement made Tuesday night was by Wilson, saying the fact that the Mariners appear better equipped to battle left-handed pitchers doesn’t mean off nights still won’t happen.
“It’s baseball,’’ he said. “The guy pitched a hell of a game tonight.’’
On a night of few highlights for Seattle, one came in the top of the ninth when Tyler Olson needed just one pitch to induce a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning in what was the major-league debut for the left-hander from Spokane who has made the jump from Class AA to the Seattle roster.
Hisashi Iwakuma will start for Seattle on Wednesday night against right-hander Matt Shoemaker for the Angels. First pitch is 7:10 p.m.