Three months ago, the Angels played the Mariners with visions of grandeur and hopes of securing their first playoff berth since 2014. There was a brawl between the teams that the Angels, in the aftermath, had hoped would unite them so they could play themselves right back into their strong start to the 2022 season.
Those hopes had dwindled in a painful repeat of the last several seasons, and after a late-September game against that same Mariners team, were officially buried.
The Angels were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in a miserable 9-1 loss to their division rival, who would have shut them out in the Monday matinee if not for Shohei Ohtani, who doubled, went to third on Matt Duffy’s double and was driven in by Taylor Ward’s sacrifice fly.
This last Angels loss to officially KO the season was bound to happen, though a valiant effort was made through the weekend against that team that is still in position to clinch a wild card spot.
“We’ve been playing better baseball lately, and we’ll go out and have a good road trip now, but no, we’ve nothing to be ashamed of,” interim manager Phil Nevin said of losing the last game of the series. “Had a good series, [Logan Gilbert] pitched a very good game against us. That’s a good team. We’re happy with the way we played against them this year.”
In terms of the microcosm that was this series against a strong Mariners team, the loss was an outlier. The Angels won the first three games of the series and those wins allowed the Angels to go 10-9 against Seattle this season.
Oh what could have been if the Angels were consistent enough to be in a different position in the standings this time of year. Just 15 games stand between the Angels and the end of their 2022 season.
Mariners starter Gilbert racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts. José Suarez and the rest of the Angels’ arms, meanwhile, were bullied, particularly in the latter half of the game.
“Since the beginning of the game, I did not locate my pitches,” Suarez said in Spanish. “If the pitches aren’t locating, with what confidence can I pitch?”
Suarez gave up five earned runs on seven hits, including a grand slam by Carlos Santana, and one walk, striking out four over five innings. Relievers Zack Weiss and Mike Mayers also were bit by home runs.
It was the fifth inning that the Mariners were able to break the game open, taking a lead they would only build on.
Suarez loaded the bases before he could get the final out. It started with a four-pitch walk to Curt Casali, then his slider came just too close to Ty France, who reached base after Suarez plunked his foot.
“I thought he was throwing well until the four-pitch walk to Casali, was what got him,” Nevin said.
By then, Suarez looked gassed. He threw three balls to his next batter, Santana, before getting a strike. Santana then took Suarez’s fifth pitch high and deep over the left field fence and into the visiting bullpen for a grand slam. And what started as a one-run deficit turned into a five-run deficit.
Suarez has not pitched deep into games in many instances this season. He’s completed six innings just four times and has pitched through the seventh inning just twice.
Asked whether pitching deeper into games was something to work on for next season, Suarez hedged.
“It’s not that I can’t pitch into the seventh inning, and not to use it as an excuse but if you cannot locate the ball, it’s very difficult to control the game,” he said.