It’s hard to imagine a game going any better than it did for the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. Clutch hits came from all spots in the batting order, a reliever dominated the stage, and it all came together in a 14-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Five different players recorded at least two hits. Luis Rengifo went 2-for-4 with a homer, Brandon Marsh was 2-for-4 with a walk and four runs scored, Phil Gosselin went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, Jared Walsh went 4-for-5 with four RBIs, and Shohei Ohtani went 2-for-3 with two walks and two triples.
Then, there was Jhonathan Diaz. After Jaime Barria was forced to exit after two innings due to arm fatigue, Diaz took the mound for a long relief outing. Almost no one could have guessed what happened next: Diaz finished the game by himself.
He pitched seven innings of one-run, three-hit baseball, putting together exactly what the Angels needed in every way. Among all the good that happened offensively, Joe Maddon made sure to give credit to Diaz, according to J.P. Hoornstra of The O.C. Register:
“He came in and defined that game,” Maddon said. “Give Diaz a lot of credit. He really pitched well. The last time he pitched he got off to a bad start. Tonight he settled in and made pitches all night long.”
Maddon was also impressed with Marsh, who did everything one could expect out of a true leadoff batter.
“I think he’s handled it well,” Maddon said of Marsh’s move to the leadoff spot. “If you like what you’re seeing right now, know that it’s going to keep getting better. I do like what I’m seeing right now. … He has all the abilities to be a very good leadoff hitter in the major leagues right now, including the ability to steal bases.”
But of course, the story of the night was Ohtani. After drawing 11 walks in his last three games, everyone wanted to see what would happen if the Mariners actually pitched to him. They found out quickly, as he hit RBI triples in both the first and third innings. Marsh has some words about this following the game.
“It’s fun to see him get pitched in the zone, not walked, not intentionally walked,” Marsh said. “I can’t take any credit for that. I’m just up there trying to do my job. I’m going to pass the baton to the next guy.”
The Angels have just seven games remaining in their season, including four against these Mariners. Nights like Saturday provide a glimmer of hope as to what 2022 can look like when the team is back at full strength and making necessary free agency additions.
Max Stassi goes 0-for-3 as he tries to work out of slump
Angels catcher Max Stassi recently spoke about the foundation he needed at the plate to get out of an ongoing extended slump. While he wasn’t able to notch a hit in the Angels explosive game, he did draw two walks, signaling some improved plate discipline.