For the better part of two months now, the Angels lineup has looked like a shell of the group that flashed top-five potential at one point in the year. A number of different injuries have zapped them of almost all of the star power that was present during the early days of the season, and the guys left over have struggled to consistently put runs on the board for a while.
You wouldn’t know all that if you watched them on Saturday night, however, as the Halo bats went absolutely ballistic in what was a 14-1 beatdown of a Seattle Mariners team that desperately needed a win to keep pace in a heated AL Wild Card race.
The offensive onslaught started right from the jump, with Shohei Ohtani quickly getting the team on the board with a triple down the right field line off of Mariners starter Tyler Anderson that drove in Brandon Marsh from first base. After walking a record-setting 11 times over his previous three games, this was the first time in quite a bit that Ohtani was actually given pitches to hit, and he managed to capitalize on this almost immediately.
The scoring would continue just one batter later, with Phil Gosselin starting off his nice day by bringing home Ohtani with an RBI groundout that gave the Angels a 2-0 lead just three batters into the game. This lead would increase even more the very next frame, as Luis Rengifo got in on the action with his sixth home run of the season, a 413 foot solo blast to left center that gave the team an even bigger cushion to work with.
This hot start was already a pleasant sign given the Angels’ inconsistencies with the bats as of late, but once the third inning rolled around, the floodgates truly opened up. In what turned out to be an eerily similar scenario to the opening frame, Ohtani roped another ball down the right field line for his second triple of the game, once again driving in Marsh from first base. With this hit, Ohtani became the first Angel to triple in consecutive plate appearances since Peter Bourjos back in 2011, and he joined Marsh as the only two Angels to record a multi-triple game this season.
The line kept on moving from here, with the next four Halo hitters after Ohtani reaching base safely. Gosselin once again drove home Ohtani with a base hit, Jack Mayfield and Max Stassi subsequently loaded the bases with a single and a walk respectively, and Jared Walsh blew things open with a two-RBI base hit that increased the Angels lead to 7-1 and chased Anderson from the game.
The Angels were nowhere close to done, though, as they loaded the bases once again just two batters later on Rengifo’s second hit in as many innings. From here, Marsh was hit by a pitch to bring in a run, Ohtani walked for the 12th time in four days to bring in another, and Gosselin capped things off with his second hit and third and fourth RBIs of the game to bring the score all the way up to a whopping 11-1.
By the time the dust had settled, the Halos had put up an eight spot in the third inning, the most runs the team had scored in any single inning since all the way back in May of 2017. This was only the second time that the Angels had even scored eight runs in a full game throughout the whole month of September, and they managed to do it over the span of just 13 batters.
The run scoring party picked back up in the fifth when reliever Justus Sheffield lost all control of the strike zone. In what was his second inning of relief, Sheffield started off the frame by issuing four straight walks to Marsh, Ohtani, Gosselin and Mayfield, throwing 15 straight balls at one point before being mercifully removed from the game. This put Walsh in another prime spot, and he stayed hot by lining a double off the wall to score the Angels final two runs of the game, missing his 28th home run of the year by just a few feet.
This offensive outburst was obviously the biggest story of the day, but not to be forgotten was the excellent work put in on the mound in by Jhonathan Diaz. The rookie was brought on in relief in this one after starter Jaime Barria was lifted after just two innings due to arm fatigue, and he managed to finish the game by tossing seven innings of one-run ball while giving up just three hits and one walk. After allowing his only run of the game in his first inning of work, Diaz went into cruise control, at one point retiring 13 Mariners in a row before Cal Raleigh’s double in the eighth. This performance was night and day from his five-out, four-walk major league debut last Friday, and it was more than enough to earn Diaz his first win in the big leagues.
For a team that has struggled so mightily at times recently, Saturday was a remarkable turn of events. Seven of the nine players in the lineup recorded hits, three of them (Ohtani, Gosselin and Walsh) combined to drive in 11 runs, and the pitching staff spun a gem in what was one of the most complete wins of the season. The Angels played spoiler to perfection tonight, and they’ll try to deliver one more crushing blow to the Mariners’ playoff hopes in the rubber match of this series tomorrow at 1:07 PM PST when they send Ohtani to the mound for the last home game of the season.