The Los Angeles Angels are in Seattle Sunday for game three of a three-game series with the Mariners. The series is tied at one game apiece. Los Angeles took game one 5-0 on Friday night behind a dominant start from Garrett Richards and a three-hit night from Mike Trout. Game two went to Seattle in dramatic fashion as the game was back and forth all game long. Los Angeles jumped out to a 4-0, and it looked like they were cruising to another win, but Seattle battled back to a take 6-4 lead into the ninth inning.
The Angels staged a comeback of their own in the ninth when they knotted the game at six runs on a Justin Upton home run off of Seattle’s ace closer Edwin Diaz. The game was a wild one in extra innings as the Angels took the lead in the top of the tenth inning only to see Seattle tie it in the bottom of the tenth. Then in the eleventh, the Angels once again jumped out to a lead only to see Seattle comeback yet again and win the game with a walk-off when Ryon Healy singled in Kyle Seager to end the game. Game two was one of the best games I have seen all year, and I am excited to see what these teams do today in game three of the series.
Starting for the Angels today is Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani (2-1 4.43 ERA). For the Mariners, it is their ace, Felix Hernandez (4-2 4.89 ERA). The Angels are -125 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM PST form Safeco Field in Seattle.
The American League West is quickly looking like the best division in the American League. The AL Central is a dumpster can fire where the Indians are the only team that has any glimmer of hope at post season success. The AL East is tough as always but looks to be a bit top heavy with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees leading the way. The rest of the division? Most are expected to have down years.
But out West, you have what is very likely the best team in all of baseball, the Houston Astros, in a dogfight with the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels for the divisional crown. And don’t look now, but the Oakland A’s find themselves above .500 as well. The winner of this game tonight will be in sole ownership of first place in the West Division.
Shohei Ohtani has burst on the scene like no other Japanese player since Ichiro Suzuki. He came in with a lot of hype and quickly showed both on the mound and with his bat that he deserved to be in the big leagues. Ohtani is slashing .339 with solid power as well. He has four home runs, and fourteen RBI’s in just fifty-nine at-bats this year. Ohtani won’t bat tonight as he will be taking the mound.
On the mound, the Ohtani experiment has had some mixed results. After his first two starts, it looked like Ohtani was going to be a Cy Young Award candidate. In his next two starts. Ohtani found that major league hitters make adjustments and he struggled a bit. He lasted just two innings against the Boston Red Sox and was pulled after giving up three early runs. In his next start against Houston, he pitched just five and third and gave up four runs.
Both of those starts were against very good teams, but I think the rest of baseball calmed down a little bit on calling him the next Babe Ruth after he showed some signs of being mortal. But don’t let his recent struggles fool you, this guy absolutely deserves to be where he is. He threw a 101-MPH fastball in his last start against Houston, that is the fastest pitch by any starting pitcher so far this season. It will be curious to see how Ohtani fares against a Mariners team that is swinging a hot bat at the moment.
The Seattle Mariners are finally fully healthy and have their best lineup on the field. The injury bug has plagued Seattle now for several years, and it is nice to see this team on the diamond with all of their best guys actually playing. Part of getting their best team on the field was sending legendary hitter Ichiro Suzuki out to pasture. The one-time Japanese phenom himself still has an elite glove, but his bat just isn’t there anymore.
I know it must have been hard to transition Ichiro from the field to the front office, but for the on the field product is what clearly the right move. Ichiro hasn’t ruled out playing again in 2019, but I have a feeling he is just hanging around to play next season’s opening day games that were announced will be played in Japan next year. It would be a fitting end for a legend.
Seattle will start Felix Hernandez tonight, looking for the series win. Hernandez has been like two different pitchers at home and on the road so far this season. At home in Seattle? He is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA. He has eighteen strikeouts in seventeen and two-thirds of an inning and is allowing just a .167 batting average against. On the road? His ERA balloons to 6.86 and his batting average against goes up over a hundred points to .287. At home Felix can still be something special, on the road he can’t be trusted.
What a great game for a Sunday afternoon we have here. Ohtani versus Felix and two of the best teams in the American League battling it out. So where do I find the value? By backing King Felix at home. While the Angels outrank the Mariners in most offensive categories that is more a function of the Mariners being banged up early in the year. Now that they have their full lineup on the field this is a top-five lineup in baseball.
So, to me, the lineup is a wash. And I am just not ready to say that Ohtani is ready to be a favorite against a solid team like the Mariners with their ace on the mound. You won’t find a bigger Ohtani fan out there than me, I love this kid. But he hasn’t had a good start since April 8th, and he is going to have to prove to me that he deserves to be favored in a matchup like this one tonight, and he just hasn’t done that yet. Give me the Seattle Mariners as home underdogs tonight in game three!