Angels’ offense gets going early, Griffin Canning excels in rout of Mariners
Jared Walsh had been asked a question about himself.
But he couldn’t help but comment on the entire Angels lineup.
“Unbelievable,” he said after the team’s 10-5 thumping of the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night, speaking to the team’s television broadcast. “It just shows how potent our lineup is when everyone’s healthy. That was pretty special.”
The Angels scored three runs in the first, five in the second and two more in the fourth to quickly pull away in Saturday’s blowout, outhitting their hosts 13-7 while also getting 5 1/3 strong innings from starting pitcher Griffin Canning.
Mike Trout got the offense started, clobbering a center-cut, 92-mph fastball well over the center-field wall for a two-run blast with one out in the opening inning. Two at-bats later, Walsh went deep for a solo shot the other way.
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The Angels kept it going in the second, when José Iglesias and Max Stassi led off with singles, then moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt from David Fletcher. After Shohei Ohtani hit a ground ball to score Iglesias, Trout was intentionally walked with first base open.
That’s when the Angels delivered the knockout blow, a 1-2 combination from Anthony Rendon and Walsh that put the game out of reach.
First, Rendon laced a double into left-center, scoring Stassi and Trout. Walsh hit the next pitch even farther, crushing his second home run of the game into the right-field seats en route to his first career four-hit night.
“He’s making adjustments during the at-bat,” manager Joe Maddon said of Walsh, who is now batting .360 with 1.068 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and team-high 21 RBI. “He’s showing extreme power with the ability to hit and hit for average too. He’s got a nose for the RBI … There’s no letup on this guy.”
Walsh, 27, has practically replicated his production from last September, when he finished the season on a torrid run at the plate after being recalled from the alternate training site.
He acknowledged he wasn’t expecting to start 2021 this well — he finished Saturday sixth in the majors in OPS — but said “if I’m swinging at strikes and feeling confident, good things usually happen. Try to slow the game down and try to cue in on the pitch selection, that’s the main thing.”
By the time Canning returned to the mound for the bottom of the second, his start only 12 pitches old, his offense had already built him an 8-0 lead. It would be more than enough, with the right-hander giving up only a lone unearned run in what matched his longest outing of the season.
After Canning was knocked around in his previous start, giving up six runs in fewer than three innings against the Houston Astros last weekend, he was given simple instructions by Maddon on Saturday.
“I just like when he attacks,” Maddon said. “He just needs to really command that fastball in order to have everything play off of it.”
Highlights from the Angels’ 10-5 road win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
Canning did just that against the Mariners (15-13). He struck out nine batters, second-most in his career, and induced 23 swings-and-misses, a personal best. At one point, he found the zone on 14 straight pitches. And he issued only two walks while also yielding just three hits.
His fastball was good, accounting for 12 of those whiffs. But his secondary stuff was strong too, especially a slider he used it to finish off five of his strikeouts.
Canning’s explanation for Saturday’s success wasn’t complicated. He simply had a better feel on the mound, from how he was mixing his pitches to his decision to bring back an over-the-head wind-up for the first time this season.
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“Everybody can tell me that my stuff is good and I can throw the ball over the middle and it’s not going to get hit, but I’m a feel pitcher,” Canning said. “So if something feels a little off, it feels like a bigger deal than it might be. For whatever reason, the over-the-head syncs everything up for me.”
The Angels tacked on a couple more runs in the fourth inning on Rendon’s two-run homer, giving them more than enough cushion when the Mariners scored a pair in the eighth and ninth innings.
After going 0 for 8 in his first two games back from injury at the start of the week, Rendon has five hits and seven RBIs in his past four contests.
But in a lineup that also includes Trout, Ohtani and Walsh, he’s hardly the only streaking Angel.
“It seemed like everybody was having good at-bats tonight,” Walsh said. “One through nine, I think we’re about as tough as it gets.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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