Mariners’ Mike Leake flirts with a perfect game in rout over the Angels

Seattle Mariners pitcher Mike Leake was three outs away from a perfect game against the Angels on Friday in Seattle.
(Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

A week ago, the Angels pumped their fists and pointed to the sky after no-hitting the Seattle Mariners on an evening they honored the memory of late teammate Tyler Skaggs.

The victory started a five-game win streak during which the Angels scored 44 runs and improved to four games over .500. They were then beaten thoroughly by the Houston Astros in two consecutive games.

They arrived in Seattle, hopeful they could repeat last weekend’s magic and end a skid before it became worrisome. But Friday night, in a half-empty T-Mobile Park, the Angels did not reach base through eight innings against the same pitcher who surrendered seven runs in 2/3 of an inning in Anaheim on July 12.

Mike Leake, a veteran of 10 years who entered the evening with a 4.33 career ERA against the Angels, pitched a shutout on 98 pitches as the Mariners won 10-0.

Angels rookie Luis Rengifo dribbled a leadoff single to right field to break up Leake’s perfect-game bid in the ninth inning. The fraction of the announced crowd of 19,976 stood for an ovation.

A six-run outing Thursday night turned out to be Matt Harvey’s downfall. The Angels designated the struggling right-handed pitcher for assignment Friday.

Leake then walked Kevan Smith. Both runners moved into scoring position on a subsequent ground-out but were stranded by Brian Goodwin and Mike Trout.

Leake on Friday performed nothing like the 31-year-old who gave up eight hits and seven runs in a two-thirds-of-an-inning outing last week. He mixed his four pitches well and tied the Angels up with fastballs that moved in two directions. The formula kept the Angels from making much solid contact.


“He threw very well today,” said Rengifo, who is batting .312 in his last 28 games. “In and out, change-up, curveball. My last at-bat, the only thing was I got ready for a breaking ball or changeup, and I got that hit to the right side.”

Mariners starter Félix Hernández, currently on the injured list, retained his crown as the last MLB pitcher to throw a perfect game. He did it here, in a park previously known as Safeco Field, against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 15, 2012.

In turn, the Angels kept alive their streak of not being no-hit. Eric Milton of the Minnesota Twins held the Angels hitless on Sept. 11, 1999. Only the Oakland Athletics and Montreal Expos-Washington Nationals have longer active streaks.

Mariners first baseman Daniel Vogelbach hit two three-run home runs off Angels pitcher Jaime Barria, who was recalled before the game and greeted warmly in the visiting clubhouse by teammates who had not seen him since July 4. Vogelbach’s six RBIs were the most collected in a single game by a Mariner since Alex Rodriguez did it in 2000.

Five consecutive Mariners reached to start the fourth inning. Tom Murphy, the sixth batter, drilled a ball into the right-field wall and tried to stretch it into a double. Kole Calhoun threw him out. Two runs scored anyway. So did five more over the next two innings.

Barria’s unsightly outing ended with two outs in the sixth, after he had allowed nine hits and 10 earned runs. It was the worst outing of his career. He had previously allowed seven runs in an outing in Kansas City in April.

Barria lacked command. He issued four walks. He had little confidence in his fastball, one of the pitches he left up for Vogelbach to crush. The only pitch he trusted was his slider, which the Mariners swung and missed at six times. That breaking ball was called for a strike seven times, too.

But he didn’t go to it when Vogelbach hit his second homer.

“I wasn’t 100 percent certain about that pitch,” Barria said in Spanish. “I had to rely on the scouting report [and catcher]. I think the first homer, the change-up stayed up. The second time, I was throwing my breaking ball better, but I had to throw a fastball.”

Barria was confident his issue was not mechanical. He believes that extended time at the major league level, which he seems positioned to receive now that Matt Harvey has been let go, will help him get past this start.

Opener Taylor Cole faced the minimum number of batters through two innings, positioning Barria to begin his trudge through the Mariners lineup with the No. 7-9 hitters. Barria made it through the third inning unscathed after allowing a two-out single. It was the only frame in which he held the Mariners scoreless.

The Mariners have hit 37 home runs against the Angels. Only the New York Yankees have hit as many as 36 against a single opponent (the Baltimore Orioles).

“We’re comfortable with the rotation right now,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday, before Harvey allowed six runs in six innings and was designated for assignment.

He reiterated after Friday’s loss that the Angels, who dropped to 50-49 and fell 6 1/2 games out of second place in the wild-card standings, remain confident in their starters.

“We can’t pitch like that as a group,” he said, “but I also don’t think that’s indicative of the type of pitchers we have.”