Angels offense gets going early in rout of Seattle Mariners

Angels’ offense gets going early in rout of Seattle Mariners

David Fletcher struck out looking in the first at-bat of the Angels’ game Saturday night against the Seattle Mariners.

After that, their offense immediately clicked into gear.

The Angels scored three runs in the first, five in the second and two more in the fourth to quickly pull away in a 10-5 rout of the Mariners at T-Mobile Park, outslugging their hosts while also getting 5⅓ strong innings from starting pitcher Griffin Canning to even the weekend series and set up a rubber match Sunday afternoon.

For the Angels (13-12), the offensive explosion began with a first-inning walk by Shohei Ohtani of all things, only the fourth free pass drawn by the two-star this year. He later stole second, his team-leading fourth steal of the season, but it didn’t ultimately matter.

In the next at-bat, Mike Trout clobbered a center-cut 92 mph fastball well over the center-field wall for a two-run blast.

It only got worse from there for Mariners starter Ljay Newsome.

Two batters later, Jared Walsh drove a changeup the other way for a solo shot to left. In the second inning, José Iglesias and Max Stassi led off with back-to-back singles, then moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt from Fletcher. Ohtani batted up next, hitting a ground ball to score Iglesias. Trout was then intentionally walked to put runners at first and second.

That’s when the Angels delivered the knockout blow, a one-two combination from Anthony Rendon and Walsh that put the game out of reach.

First, Rendon laced a double into left-center field, scoring both Stassi and Trout. Walsh did even better, crushing his second home run of the game into the right-field seats on the very next pitch.

Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning gave up one unearned run and three hits in 5⅓ innings Saturday. He struck out nine and walked two.

(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

When 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.

After the right-hander was knocked around in his previous start, giving up six runs in fewer than three innings against the Houston Astros last weekend, Canning was given simple instructions by manager Joe Maddon on Saturday.

“I just like when he attacks,” Maddon said, adding: “He just needs to really command that fastball in order to have everything play off of it.”

Canning did just that against the Mariners (15-13). In 5⅓ innings, he gave up a lone unearned run. 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 13 straight pitches. And he issued only two walks while also yielding just three hits.

His fastball was good, accounting for 12 of those whiffs and 31 strikes overall of the 48 times he threw it. But his secondary stuff was strong too, especially the slider. Last week, Canning had identified a lack of feel for that pitch as a major reason for his struggles. On Saturday, he used it to finish off five of his strikeouts.

The only run Canning allowed came in the third inning, when Iglesias was charged with two errors at shortstop after Albert Pujols failed to pick a couple throws at first. Other than that, the Mariners didn’t put a runner in scoring position until the sixth inning, when reliever Alex Claudio was summoned for back-to-back strikeouts that stranded the two baserunners Canning left behind.

The Angels tacked on a couple more runs in the fourth inning courtesy of a two-run homer by Rendon. After going 0 for 8 in his first two games back from injury at the start of the week, Rendon has four hits and seven RBI in his past four contests.

But in a lineup that also includes Trout, Ohtani and Walsh, he’s hardly the only streaking Angels hitter.

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