Angels leaving Seattle a bit battered after Mariners complete sweep
They lost their starting pitcher, their shortstop and, ultimately, their fourth consecutive game Wednesday, the Angels fleeing the Pacific Northwest with little more than their pride intact.
Battered, almost certainly, but at least intact.
Unable to hold a late two-run lead, they eventually fell dramatically to first-place Seattle 8-6 on a last-swing homer by Mitch Haniger off reliever Oliver Drake.
“It was just one of those days where the bullpen was stretched a bit and we had to use them a lot,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We just couldn’t get it done at the end.”
Garrett Richards lasted only two innings before departing with tightness in his left hamstring. An inning later, Zack Cozart departed with a strained left shoulder.
Both players tried to remain optimistic afterward but both also sounded wary, hardly surprising given the Angels’ recent run of injuries.
Richards and Cozart will undergo tests Thursday before either will know the severity of their injuries.
“Hopefully, everything’s not as bad as it could be,” Richards said, “and I’ll be back out there as soon as possible.”
Said Cozart, “Hopefully, I get good news and it’s just some inflammation or something and we’ll go from there.”
At the beginning of this trip, they also had a player — reserve Kaleb Cowart — twist his ankle walking off a bus.
Richards had a 1-2-3 first inning, retiring the Mariners on 10 pitches. After getting Nelson Cruz to fly out leading off the second, his day quickly soured as the tightness worsened.
“It just felt like a big cramp,” Richards said. “No popping. No sharp pains or anything. Just more uncomfortable than anything else.”
After the Cruz at-bat, the Mariners produced three consecutive singles and a double to bring home their first two runs. Richards then retired Andrew Romine and Dee Gordon to end the inning. His afternoon, however, also was over.
Suspicion that something could be wrong with Richards started during the second because of a dip -- not quite 2 mph -- in the velocity of his fastball, even the slightest departure from the norm a potential red flag.
He said he first felt the tightness during his previous start, Friday in Minnesota, although in the interim “it had gotten progressively better.” He said he didn’t experience it again until he started pitching Thursday.
“These things pop up every once in a while,” Richards said. “It’s a long season.”
Cozart was injured in the third diving to field a ball that went for an infield single for Haniger. He finished the inning but then was lifted for a pinch-hitter leading off the fourth.
He explained that he once had a similar injury that cost him “a few days.”
“My shoulder kind of separated or popped out a little bit when I hit the ground,” Cozart said. “I don’t like having anything like this because this kind of stuff affects your swing and everything there is about baseball, really.”
After the two prominent exits, the Angels fell behind 4-1, came back to take a 6-4 lead but were unable to hold on as their strained bullpen surrendered six runs in 6 1/3 innings.
The three hours, 35 minutes of frenetic baseball included some oddities. Among the highlights:
Nolan Fontana homered, leaving him two for 28 for his career with both hits being solo home runs.
The Mariners intentionally walked Mike Trout twice, including once with the bases empty.
The Angels used their saves leader -- Blake Parker -- in the seventh inning and he eventually gave up a tying home run.
Now, the Angels have to brace themselves for more potential losses from this lost game.
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