ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)Shohei Ohtani pitched seven scoreless innings, drove in one run and scored another as the Los Angeles Angels beat Seattle 2-1 Saturday night, dropping the Mariners in the wild-card standings.
The Mariners entered the four-game series tied for the top spot in the AL wild-card chase but are now two games behind Toronto and a half game in back of Tampa Bay. Seattle holds the final wild-card spot, five games ahead of Baltimore.
The Angels’ second straight victory against the Mariners came on the back of their two-way MVP candidate as Ohtani reached base twice in three at-bats, drove in his 89th run and lowered his ERA to 2.43 in 148 total innings.
”I don’t like to self-critique myself in any way,” Ohtani said through an interpreter as he is in the midst of an MVP chase with the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge. ”One thing I could say is, overall, balance-wise, I’m having a better season this year than I had last year.”
One day after the teams combined to hit seven home runs, Ohtani and Mariners starter George Kirby did not allow a long ball. Seattle’s Taylor Trammell hit a home run in the eighth inning off Jaime Barria, his fourth.
Ohtani gave the Angels a 1-0 lead in the first inning, when he followed Mike Trout’s single with a double off the left-field wall. Trout scored when the rebound eluded Mariners left fielder Jesse Winker.
Ohtani helped make it 2-0 in the fourth inning when he worked a leadoff walk against Kirby, moved to third on a single and a wild pitch, then scored on a ground out by Matt Duffy.
On the mound, Ohtani (13-8) was barely threatened, allowing one Seattle runner to reach second base. He gave up three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts, his most in three starts this month. Ohtani now has 196 strikeouts on the season.
”I’ve said it before, he’s the most valuable player of our game right now,” said Angels interim manager Phil Nevin, who has a unique view on the MVP chase as a former Yankees coach. ”Until somebody can come in and do the things he does on both sides, I don’t see it going any other way. I love Aaron Judge like a son, but I’ll continue to say it: (Ohtani) can take over a baseball game like nobody can.”
After Barria allowed a run in the eighth for Los Angeles, Aaron Loup pitched the ninth for his first save.
Kirby (7-4) gave up two runs and four hits over six innings with one walk and eight strikeouts.
”I thought it was a good outing. I could execute a little better,” Kirby said. ”I didn’t have too much feel for my slider tonight, but I commanded the fastball pretty well, for the most part, minus one walk. I just gotta go to the next one.”
Although they are already assured of a losing record this season, the Angels improved to 9-8 against the Mariners.
First it was productive third baseman Eugenio Suarez fracturing his right index finger in Friday’s game. Then rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez was a late scratch Saturday with back spasms.
It is the last thing Seattle needed to see while trying to wrap up a playoff berth for the first time since 2001.
While Suarez went on the injured list Saturday, Rodriguez is day-to-day for now.
”It happens; that’s why you have a 26-man roster,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ”You need everybody to step up and do their job. We pitched a really good ballgame. We were right there. We had a chance to win it. That’s all you can ask for.”
Mariners: INF/OF Dylan Moore (oblique) was reinstated from the IL, while Suarez will see a specialist in Arizona next week with a return this season not ruled out. … C Cal Raleigh was in the starting lineup after receiving treatment Thursday and Friday for a thumb injury. … OF Mitch Haniger (back) was out of the starting lineup for the fourth consecutive game.
Angels: INF David Fletcher was placed on the 10-day IL with a right-hand contusion, while INF Livan Soto had his contract purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake. INF Andrew Velasquez, who was ruled out for the season this week with a torn meniscus in his right knee, was placed on the 60-day IL.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (10-13, 3.89 ERA) struck out a season-high seven batters the last time he faced the Angels on Aug. 7.
Angels: LHP Reid Detmers (5-5, 3.82) has 65 strikeouts in 55 innings since returning from Triple-A Salt Lake on July 8.