Mariners come up short against Ohtani and Angels in 4-3 loss

The Mariners are unable to come through in the rubber match versus the Angles, as they open the 2023 season 2-5 at home.

It was always going to be tough going up against Shohei Ohtani on Wednesday afternoon. Ultimately though the Mariners were left kicking themselves, as they lost the rubber match 4-3 versus the Angels.

The Mariners led the Majors in one-run wins in both 2021 and last year. However, this was one tight game where they were unable to come through, as they continue a frustrating start to the 2023 season.

Ohtani struggles with location but still too much

Angels pitcher Shohei Otani stretches ( credit Liz Wolter/ Converge Media)

Making the loss even more frustrating, was the reality the M’s were facing a subpar Ohtani. He provided several free passes to base, courtesy of four walks and hitting two batters.

Ultimately though, the only run Seattle managed to get versus the 2021 AL MVP came as a result of him throwing a wild pitch. Even off-form, he still only allowed three hits, while striking out eight.

The Mariners’ best opportunities to get to Ohtani all came in the opening three innings. His pitch count rose to 69, on the way to matching his 2022-high of 111.

However, it was significant the Mariners still trailed 2-1 after three. Ohtani then looked more like his usual self, facing the minimum amount of batters over his final three innings.

Flexen steps in admirably for Ray

As for the M’s starter on the mound, Chris Flexen looked good. Replacing Robbie Ray was always going to be challenge, but at least Flexen has been here before.

In 5.0 innings, the 28-year-old gave up just two hits, a couple of walks and two earned runs. He also struck out four, as he continued the fine shown during spring training.

In the end however, Flexen still took home the loss. The only runs he allowed came in the bottom of the second, thanks to a two-run homer by rookie Logan O’Hoppe.

Overall though, Flexen still had the Mariners in a decent position to win when he left the action. Speaking about him after the game, manager Scott Servais said:

“Chris Flexen did exactly what he needed to do. He threw the ball outstanding today. He made (just) two mistakes, the curveball for a single and a 2-0 cutter to the nine-hole hitter for the homer. But (overall) Flex did a great job of stepping in. We’re going to continue to need to get those kind of outings from him, but I can’t say enough about what he did.”

As for Flexen himself, he spoke about managing to change his mindset from being in the bullpen to going back into the rotation. He said:

“Yes, I was able to fall straight back into a starter routine … I felt good today. I felt strong and was ready to go.”

With the bullpen taking over, it was up to them to keep the M’s within reach. However, Andres Munoz was unable to handle the All-Star duo of Mike Trout and Ohtani in the top of the seventh.

The pair combined for a couple of RBI, to give the Angels a 4-1 lead. While the bullpen shut the door after this, the damage was already done.

Mariners fight to the bitter end

The Mariners didn’t give up thanks to Ty France and Eugenio Suarez, who continue to be two of the more reliable hitters in the lineup. Both contributed scoring hits, to bring the home side to within 4-3 after seven innings.

The M’s still had a chance to win all the way to the very end. J.P. Crawford reached base with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth.

Seattle couldn’t have asked for much more, with Julio Rodriguez and France in line as the next two batters. Unfortunately for the ball club and their fans, neither could take advantage of the opportunity.

With the 4-3 defeat, the Mariners lost the series and are now 0-2 in one-run games so far this season. They won a Major-League leading combined 77 one-run games in the previous two seasons.

Servais discussed not coming through in tight games, something which is unusual for this ball club. He said:

“We’re used to finding a way to win those games. I thought, getting a big out late or getting a big hit late hasn’t come our way early in the season so far.”

With the loss, the Mariners continue their disappointing start to the 2023 season. They complete their first home stand of the year with a 2-5 record.

Flexen offered a positive perspective, when asked about the mood of the team despite several tough losses. He said:

“It’s early. We’re not going to stop competing. I know we’re a resilient team. It’s taking time for us to get going, but I think we’re fine. I like the way we’re playing baseball and the team will keep working.”

Now, the M’s get a day off as they travel across country to begin a six-game road trip on Friday. They start in Cleveland with a three-game series and a chance for revenge, after losing three of four to open the 2023 campaign.

Do you remain confident in the Mariners, or do you have any concerns? What stood out for you most in the opening home stand of the 2023 season? Let us know in the comments section below.

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