It's a teachable moment for Jo Adell in Angels' loss to Mariners
All the extra defensive work he did at Blair Field in Long Beach in July couldn’t fully prepare Jo Adell for the speed and pressure and unpredictability of a big league game in August.
The highly touted Angels prospect learned that lesson the hard way Wednesday night when he took an awkward route on Austin Nola’s slicing drive to the gap in the seventh inning and peeked at center fielder Mike Trout just before the ball fell on the warning track for a two-run double.
It was a difficult play, to be sure, but a more seasoned right fielder, knowing the trajectory of the ball off the bat of the right-handed-hitting Nola and how far Trout would have to go to catch it, might have made it.
Instead, it fell a few feet behind Adell for the key hit in a three-run rally that built just enough of a cushion for the Mariners to withstand Trout’s two-homer barrage in a 7-6 victory over the Angels in T-Mobile Park.
“It perfectly bisected those two guys,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Nola’s hit. “From where I’m standing, I thought Jo had a chance at it because the ball was going toward him and away from Mike, and I think as they play together more often, they’ll be able to make the call on that.
“But I think [Adell] was deferring to Mike at the end of the play. That’s typically what happens when you put two outfielders together who are both pretty big guys. Collisions are not what you want to see.”
Evan White followed Nola’s two-run double with an RBI double into the right-field corner, just out of reach of a sliding Adell, for a 7-3 Seattle lead.
The tack-on run grew in importance when Trout drove a three-run homer to the upper deck in left in the eighth, giving him 27 homers — more than any other visiting player — and 68 RBIs in T-Mobile Park.
Trout also teamed with David Fletcher to hit back-to-back homers in the sixth and has hit three homers in two games since returning to the team after the birth of his son last week.
“That last ball was absolutely mangled,” Maddon said of Trout. “He's on top of everything right now. The at-bats are good. The pitches that he had been fouling off prior to the birth are not being fouled off right now.”
Seattle reliever Carl Edwards Jr. retired the side in order in the ninth and struck out Adell, who was making his second big league start, to end the game.
“There’s no way under the circumstances the guys who are at the alternate facilities can play a game that anywhere near matches this,” Maddon said. “The intensity of the day is different. [Jo] had some tough plays tonight and ended with the punch-out, but I know that’s all gonna even out for him.”
Julio Teheran, making his Angels debut after being slowed by the coronavirus in July, threw 52 pitches when he departed with two on and two outs in the third, only to watch left-hander Ryan Buchter give up a three-run homer to Kyle Seager for a 3-1 Mariners lead.
Teheran was scheduled to make one more start this week at the team’s alternate training site, but an injury to Shohei Ohtani forced the Angels to summon him earlier and put him on a 60-pitch limit.
“Just coming off of what he's gone through, we were sitting at 55 [pitches] and here came Seager,” Maddon said. “I went with the higher percentage play and it just didn't work out. I talked to him afterwards. Of course, he said he felt like he could have continued. And I'm sure he could have. It was this one of those things that we made up our minds, and we did.”
Ohtani’s return from 2018 Tommy John surgery was derailed by an elbow sprain he suffered Sunday against Houston, an injury that will relegate the two-way star to hitting for the rest of this season.
But Ohtani, who has made only three starts on the mound in two years, is not ready to abandon his goal of being a two-way player in the major leagues.
“This time it’s not as severe as when I needed Tommy John; it’s just a little inflammation in my elbow, so I’m still going to try to get back on the mound,” Ohtani said through an interpreter on Wednesday.
“If it comes down to [the Angels] telling me to just focus on hitting or just focus on pitching I will listen, but ideally, I would like to leave the window open for me to do both.”
Ohtani gave up seven earned runs and walked eight of 16 batters in 12/3 innings of two starts this season. His fastball velocity dropped from a high of 97 mph to 89-90 mph at the end of a 42-pitch second inning on Sunday.
An MRI test revealed a Grade 1-2 sprain of the flexor pronator mass in his right arm, but Ohtani told Japanese reporters he will not need surgery. He said he could not pinpoint a specific pitch on which he hurt the elbow.
“I didn’t feel 100% in my first outing, so it could have been there,” said Ohtani, who is expected to return to the lineup as a designated hitter on Thursday. “It could have been through the whole rehab process post-surgery.”
Did Ohtani feel any pain in his elbow during the lengthy second inning Sunday?
“I’m not sure if it was pain,” he said. “I always felt tightness through the whole rehab program.”
Three observations on the Angels
Manager Joe Maddon might want to show some more faith in his starting pitchers. His early hook of Andrew Heaney backfired in a 10-7 loss to Seattle on July 29. So did his decision to pull Julio Teheran eight pitches shy of his 60-pitch target Wednesday. Left-hander Ryan Buchter relieved Teheran and gave up a three-run homer to Kyle Seager for a 3-1 Mariners lead.
Max Stassi has some legitimate pop. The catcher put a charge into a Marco Gonzales cut-fastball in the third inning, driving a 425-foot homer to left-center for a 1-0 lead. It was the third homer of the season for Stassi, who hit all of two homers last year.
Mike Trout loves hitting in Seattle. After Trout’s sixth-inning solo homer to center field he was hitting .260 (26 for 100) with 26 homers and 65 RBIs in T-Mobile Park, the most homers by any visiting player in its history.
DiGiovanna reported from Los Angeles.