Mariners do OK vs. Shohei Ohtani the pitcher, but struggle with him at the plate

Tribune Content Agency

ANAHEIM, Calif. — As erratic as Shohei Ohtani was as a pitcher Friday night, he was even more electric as a hitter.

That proved enough to propel the Los Angeles Angels to a 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners, their seventh loss in the last nine games, and fifth in six on this road trip.

While the home fans surely left Angels Stadium buzzing over a 460-foot homer by Ohtani in the third inning on a night in which he also singled and doubled, the Mariners were left bumming that they hadn’t taken advantage of some uncharacteristic wildness by Ohtani during his five innings on the mound.

Ohtani tied a season-high in walks with five — three in the first inning — and also hit a batter.

The Mariners got only three hits off Ohtani — though one was a two-run homer by Jarred Kelenic with two outs in the first that got the game off to a promising start — and twice hit into double plays to help him get out of jams.

Worse, the Mariners couldn’t do much against four Angels relievers, getting just one hit — though it momentarily put a scare into the home crowd as Mike Ford led off the ninth with a solo home run.

Jose Caballero then walked. But J.P. Crawford fouled out, Julio Rodriguez struck out looking — his third of the night — and Ty France lined out to center to end the game as the Mariners fell to 30-32.

The offensive struggles proved fatal when starter Luis Castillo showed he was a little vulnerable after two starts in which he hadn’t allowed a run in 12 combined innings, appearing to have returned to form after a few rough outings.

Castillo breezed through the Angels’ lineup the first time around, striking out five and allowing only a single by Ohtani through the open left side of the infield.

But with two outs in the third, Crawford booted a grounder from Taylor Ward.

That brought up Ohtani.

After having been penalized an automatic ball to start the at-bat for a pitch-timer violation, Castillo tried to sneak an 84.3-mile an hour changeup by Ohtani.

But Ohtani wasn’t fooled, swinging and sending the ball high, far and deep.

Ohtani’s blast elicited an immediate roar from the crowd — and an almost as quick resigned drop of the shoulders from Castillo — a roar that only grew as the ball sailed through the southern California night and finally landed far over the wall in the berm in center field 440 feet away to tie the game at 2.

It was the seventh time in Ohtani’s career he has homered in a game in which he was also pitching.

The Angeles took the lead 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth when Anthony Rendon doubled to right on a ball that just eluded Teoscar Hernandez, followed by a single up the middle from Luis Rengifo.

Ohtani walked Caballero and hit Rodriguez to put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth.

Ty France looped one into center field to score Caballero and tie the game at 3.

But Kelenic followed by swinging at the first pitch he saw from Ohtani and hit it right to first baseman Jared Walsh, who started a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning — and the night as a pitcher for Ohtani, who threw 97 pitches, but barely half, 53, for strikes.

In the bottom of the inning, with one on and two outs, Ohtani rocketed a shot to left-center.

And as Zach Neto — who had walked — raced to third, Ohtani kept going and sprinted and slid in to second.

That brought up Mike Trout, and an at-bat that in the moment loomed as big as any in the game. Castillo threw four straight four-seam, 97-mile an hour fast balls — two for balls and two for strikes.

Then on pitch five, Castillo changed things up, going with slider that seemed to catch Trout off guard, and he swung and foul tipped it for strike three.

Castillo turned with a celebratory fist pump only to find himself looking right at Ohtani, beginning his trudge off second in disappointment.

But Castillo’s good vibes didn’t last.

He hit Anthony Rendon to lead off the sixth, and after getting two outs, faced Mickey Moniak.

Castillo threw fastballs on all four pitches the first two for a swinging strike and a foul. After a ball, Castillo threw Moniak another 97-mile an hour fastball, but this time left it over the plate a bit too much and Moniak got it barely over the wall in right center for a two-run homer and a 5-3 lead.

And that proved to be an insurmountable lead against a Seattle offense that was again relentlessly feeble in the final eight innings.

Not that it was for a lack of trying — Eugenio Suarez twice lined out on hits of 103 and 101 mile an hour (one for a double play).

But typifying the night, Suarez bounced one to short — again, at 103 mph off the bat — with two outs in the eighth and Kelenic taking off from second. Neto made a good play on the ball and flipped the ball to Rendon, who tagged Kelenic for the final out of the inning.