They won’t have to face Marco Gonzales again Thursday, though the Angels will be forced to try to solve James Paxton, who meets their one cringing criterion:
He throws left-handed.
Sure, Paxton also is 8-3 and pitched a no-hitter this season. But the fact he works with his left hand might be the most ominous indicator of all.
The Angels have the worst record in the majors in games started against left-handers, Gonzales leaving them at 7-17 after his seven innings in Seattle’s 3-0 victory Wednesday.
“We’ve looked at everything,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Historically, we have some guys who are really, really dynamic hitters against left-handed pitching who haven’t gotten into their groove for whatever reason.”
Among Angels regulars, Justin Upton (.203), Ian Kinsler (.185) and Albert Pujols (.162) have struggled against left-handers.
This was, frankly, nothing particularly newsy or even new. Gonzales also beat the Angels a week ago, limiting them to one run and five hits in six innings at Safeco Field.
“Seems like we face him every time we play the Mariners,” Mike Trout said. “You can’t miss a pitch with him.”
Since Seattle started Gonzales, Scioscia opted to sit Shohei Ohtani and go with Pujols at designated hitter and Jefry Marte at first base.
Scioscia explained that he wanted to get Marte into a game — Marte had two home runs in eight at-bats all-time against Gonzales — and reiterated that Ohtani, with more experience, can succeed against left-handers.
“I think eventually, once he gets comfortable, there’s no doubt he’s going to match up against righties or lefties,” Scioscia said. “I think Shohei does have the ability. The numbers in Japan were OK on both sides.”
Ohtani has batted .320 and hit his seven home runs against right-handers. He is five for 35 (.143) against left-handers.
He pinch-hit in the ninth inning, striking out against closer Edwin Diaz.
For the game, the Angels finished with only the two singles and went hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The other relevant news? After facing Paxton on Thursday, they’ll spend the weekend at Dodger Stadium, where the home team intends to start two left-handers, Clayton Kershaw on Saturday and Rich Hill on Sunday.