Who would have expected this? A pitchers’ duel in the series finale between the Mariners and the Angels?
Boasting one of the best offensive lineups in the majors — with superstar Mike Trout leading the way — the Angels score a lot of runs. And with a mediocre pitching staff, they give up a lot of runs.
Their 10-5 win over the Mariners on Saturday and their 7-4 loss on Friday are typical Angels scores.
But with Mariners starter Justus Sheffield working out of trouble several times, the bullpen coming through and the offense doing just enough, the Mariners defeated the Angels 2-0 Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Park.
“They really battle and compete and they like the competition, highlighted today by what Sheff was able to do,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He had all kinds of traffic (on the bases) the first couple of innings and he just did not give in, trying to make pitch after pitch. … He got it going today and we certainly needed it.”
The Angels, who entered the game leading the major leagues in batting average (.265) and second in the American League in runs per game (5.0), were shut out for the first time this season.
The fewest total runs in an Angels game this season had been five.
Sheffield (2-2) wasn’t sharp early, with two hit batters and a walk in the first two innings, but he was able to escape trouble.
The Angels had runners on first and third with one out in the second inning before Sheffield struck out Max Stassi and got David Fletcher to fly out to right field — with Sam Haggerty making a nice running catch on a ball that looked like trouble for the Mariners.
The Angels had runners at first and third again with one out in the third inning, but Sheffield escaped again, getting Jared Walsh to hit into a double play.
The Mariners were held to one hit through three innings, but got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. With one out, Kyle Seager and Kyle Lewis hit consecutive singles.
After Jose Marmolejos struck out, Dylan Moore hit a soft fly ball to right field that dropped in for a hit, giving the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
Seattle scored another run in the fifth as Luis Torrens led off the inning with a double and scored on a one-out sacrifice fly from Mitch Haniger.
Two runs aren’t enough very often against the Angels.
But it was enough Sunday, with Sheffield leading the way with six scoreless innings. The left-hander threw 103 pitches, allowed two hits, three walks and he hit a pair of batters. He lowered his earned-run average from 5.32 to 4.23.
“Heck of a job by Sheff,” Servais said. “He had a heck of a slider today and he needed it against that lineup.”
Sheffield said he wasn’t happy with his command, but he battled through it.
“Even with runners on, I felt I didn’t get really quick,” Sheffield said. “I stayed within myself, I stayed under control and I made some pitches when I needed to. That’s pretty much what this game boils down to — making pitches when I really needed it.”
Will Vest, Anthony Misiewicz, Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero finished off the shut out.
“The bullpen continues to do what they’ve done pretty much all year,” Servais said.
Graveman entered the game in the bottom of the eighth, tasked with getting out Trout, Anthony Rendon and Walsh, three of the better hitters in the league. Trout grounded out, and after a Rendon single, Walsh grounded into a double play.
Montero pitched a clean ninth inning for his fourth save.
Angels starter Dylan Bundy was good, too, allowing a pair of runs in six innings on five hits and a walk. That wasn’t quite good enough with his team’s offense unable to muster a run.
“Not a ton of offense out there today,” Servais said. “Just enough and our pitching really stood up with some traffic out there on the bases.”