Postgame notes on Felix Hernandez, Mike Trout, Jean Segura and Mike Zunino and video of manager Scott Servais following the Mariners 5-4 loss
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Manager Scott Servais felt that there was some improvements in the at-bats in the Mariners’ 5-4 loss to the Angels. Obviously, the offense is still not at an optimal level or even an average level. But when you were that bad early, the search for positives can sometimes require a magnifying class and some creativity.
“I did seem some positives tonight,” Servais said. “Guys were tracking balls better and were on balls better. Hopefully, we can turn that into a few more hits tomorrow. They are grinding and trying to get in a good spot.”
Still, the losses are there.
“It’s a mistake here and it’s mistake there and it’s a bad at-bat at the wrong time,” Servais said. “We just aren’t in a good spot right now, unfortunately.”
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To be fair, there were a few hints. Nelson Cruz’s sac fly in the eighth had some promise in that he was able to get the fly ball to score a run after fouling off a 3-0 fastball and then having to battle on 3-2, fighting off three pitches on that count. It’s certainly better than a strikeout, which he did twice earlier in the night. It’s all good sign that Cruz hit the ball with some authority to right field. The Mariners feel he’s not staying on balls in his struggles.
Servais also pointed to Mike Zunino’s RBI single to tie the game at 3 in the seventh inning. After looking awful in his bat before with runners in scoring position, Zunino came back to get a single with two strikes.
“Mike was really frustrated after that at-bat,” Servais said. “Our guys know when someone is on third we need someone to step up and he was down on himself there. But it says a lot about our team, guys were like you got two more left. It was nice to see that, his ability to come back and not get too down on himself.”
Of course, he later struck out to end the game. It’s hard to get a read on Zunino’s hitting. Just about the time you see progress, there is a reversion to the strikeouts. The two at-bats tonight were perfect examples.
The 14-pitch at-bat between Mike Trout and Felix Hernandez
It was a bouquet of pitches in the duo’s first meeting of the season. Usually Trout hits a homer off of Hernandez. He waited to do that later in the game instead off of Evan Scribner. Still, Hernandez had thrown three pitches to get two outs. And when he finally struck out Trout looking, he had thrown 17 pitches in the frame. It was the longest at-bat in Hernandez’s lengthy career.
Here’s what they had to say about it:
Trout: “He made a great pitch 3-2. He’s a good pitcher. It’s always a battle with him. We have good battles. He’s one of the best in the league so it’s always fun facing him. It’s always a tough battle for everyone. he’s got a bunch of stuff he can get you out with.”
Hernandez: “He was fouling off good pitches. He’s a tough hitter. I tip my cap to him. But I made a good pitch at the end to get him out.”
Zunino: “We threw everything at least twice. He came back and made a great pitch. We went heater in and he was able to cut it a little bit and it caught the corner. That’s sort of the battle they always have. It was good to see Felix win that one.”
A little too aggressive
With one out in the third inning, Jean Segura, who had singled to right, decided to steal on the 3-2 pitch to Mitch Haniger. It was typical strategy to avoid the double play. Segura got a big jump and was about 2/3 of the way to second when Haniger hit a soft ground ball to third base. Yunel Escobar charged the ball and fired to first. Meanwhile, Segura just kept on sprinting, rounding second and trying to take the extra base.
First baseman Jefry Marte fired high to third base where shortstop Andrelton Simmons was hustling to cover the bag. Simmons made a leaping grab of the wayward toss and then as he was in the air and coming to the ground, reached down to tag Segura on the shoulder. Initially, third base ump Greg Gibson called Segura safe. But a replay overruled Gibson’s call. The replay also showed the freakish athleticism of Simmons — one of the best in baseball — to make a play he probably couldn’t replicate if given 10 more times to try it.
While it took the impossible to get Segura out, Servais would prefer not to make the third out at third base in that situation with Robinson Cano coming to the plate.
“Not with where we were at in the lineup,” Servais said. “He thought he could make it. It was a risky play. Heck of a play by Simmons, very athletic play to catch the ball and come down and tag him. But with where we were at in our lineup, and I know that the middle of our lineup has been struggling a little bit. But with two out, you are already in scoring position with Robbie coming up. He’s an aggressive player, trying to make something happen. But probably a little too chancy, too risky right there.”