Mariners v Angels Recap: Decision making once again hurts the Mariners chances to win
The Mariners and Angels just finished up their first series of the year, with the Halos taking this round. Unfortunately for the Mariners, they once again dropped a series in large part to mental miscues, which seems quite outside the norm for this team, at least when you compare it to 2022.
Here are some questions and highlights that I think arose from the series. Both the good and the bad are worth mentioning, as the Mariners looked incredible at times and awful at others.
What is going on with the Mariners decision making?
I just don't get it. It reared its head in the third game of the series. When you are going up against a pitcher of the caliber of Shohei Ohtani, you have to be on top of your game. No mental mistakes. There were two big ones that cost them, with one coming early on. After a Julio walk and a France walk, the Mariners got a sharp single from Geno that would drive in Julio. The ball got away on the throw-in, and France tried to scamper home despite being on third with no outs.
Instead of an opportunity to put it to Ohtani early, the Mariners gave up a golden opportunity. It happened again in the 7th, as Geno would rip a single once more. This time, France would actually score, but Geno would be thrown out trying to stretch it to a double, actually getting caught in a pickle for a bit. When you end up losing a game 4-3, those mistakes stand out so much more.
It was nice seeing the Mariners make Ohtani work, as he ended up throwing 111 pitches over 6 IP.
Luis Castillo is a legit stud for the Mariners
5.2 IP. 6 Ks. 2 H and 2 BBS. 99 pitches. 0 ER.
Yeah, Castillo is pretty darn good. He carefull managed his way through the Angels lineup, starting off with strikes at a 71.4% clip. He becomes just the third Mariners player in history to start the season off with 11+ scoreless innings, joining The King and The Big Maple (Felix Hernandez and James Paxton).
With Ray out and Flexen in (more on him soon), we need the dominance from Castillo. I'm not saying it has to be 6 IP and 0 ER every time out, but he's showing that he can be a true ace for this team. He's still warming up, but already showed the velocity is increasing since Spring with 32 pitches at 95.0 mph or higher.
Chris Flexen is still a massive asset for the Mariners
Just a quick one here. Flexen had a massive task set in front of him, filling a rotation spot early and going up against the best player in baseball in Shohei Ohtani. He held their offense in check all game, going 5 IP, allowing just two walks and two hits. He did get taken deep by top prospect Logan O'Hoppe, but that was his sole mistake in the game. Losing Ray for a while sucks, but Flexen is going to fill the role admirably.
When things are clicking for the Mariners on offense, it's going to be amazing
Teoscar Hernandez showed just what he can do to a baseball, mashing two monster home runs in the second game of the series, powering the Mariners to their lone win against the Angels. He wasn't the only one, as AJ Pollock actually hit two himself that game as well. This came just a day after Pollock hit three balls really well, with one or possibly two of them being home runs on a warmer day.
We all know what Julio can do. Ty France is hitting well. Geno and Dumper can hit the ball well and hard also. They just need to start stringing things together more successfully. I think we can all think of plenty of occurrences this year so far where the Mariners had a chance to score a couple of runs in an inning, only to see a couple of runners left on base as the last two guys in the inning ended up getting out.
Should we be worried about the Mariners?
No, not at all. It's early. Going 2-5 sucks, but it happens. Go through any teams season, and you are going to see a couple of stretches like this for everyone. It just stands out more when it's at the start of the season. The Mariners will take a day off to regroup and travel, and look to right the ship against the Guardians Friday.