The Angels lost to the Seattle Mariners, 5-3, on Sunday. They did not go quietly, coming within inches of turning a four-run eighth-inning deficit into a tie game at Angel Stadium.
Robinson Cano hit a three-run home run off the right-field foul pole in the top of the eighth to turn a 2-1 Seattle lead into a seemingly comfortable 5-1 cushion.
The Angels, who lead the American League with 26 come-from-behind wins, went right to work off reliever Nick Vincent. Martin Maldonado, Luis Valbuena and pinch-hitter Nick Franklin opened the bottom of the eighth with singles, Franklin’s scoring pinch-runner Eric Young Jr., to make it 5-2.
Ben Revere floated a single to right-center field to load the bases, and Cameron Maybin followed with a drive to deep center that Guillermo Heredia made a superb running, leaping catch of at the warning track to save two runs. Valbuena tagged and scored on the play to make it 5-3, and Franklin took third.
Seattle Manager Scott Servais summoned left-hander Marc Rzepczynski to face Kole Calhoun, who, after Revere stole second to put runners on second and third, popped out to second for the second out.
On came closer Edwin Diaz, who suffered the loss at Angel Stadium on April 9, when the Angels scored seven runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 10-9 victory.
Albert Pujols, who hit a home run and a two-run single in that April 9 rally, grounded to shortstop Jean Segura, who bobbled the ball before throwing wide to first.
But first baseman Danny Valencia was able to keep his foot on the bag while lunging for the throw, his momentum carrying him to the ground while two Angels crossed the plate. The call was confirmed by a 41-second replay review, and the Mariners escaped the inning with their 5-3 lead intact.
The Angels managed one hit through six innings off Seattle starter James Paxton, a single by Danny Espinosa that broke up Paxton’s perfect game with one out in the sixth, and they trailed, 2-0, entering the seventh.
Calhoun and Pujols sparked a rally with one-out walks, and Yunel Escobar lined an RBI single to right that pulled the Angels to within 2-1, advanced Pujols to third and knocked Paxton out of the game.
In came submarine-throwing right-hander Steve Cishek, whose first pitch to Andrelton Simmons was grounded back to the mound. Cishek gloved the ball and fired to shortstop Jean Segura at the second-base bag to start an inning-ending double play.
The Mariners appeared to break the game open against Angels reliever Keynan Middleton in the eighth. Segura, who drove in Seattle’s first two runs, led off with a single to center, his third hit of a four-hit game.
Ben Gamel walked before Cano lined his homer to right for a 5-1 lead, giving the Seattle second baseman 17 homers and 60 RBIs on the season.
Paxton needed only 58 pitches to retire all 15 batters, two by strikeout, through five innings, and he struck out Valbuena with an elevated 95-mph full-count fastball to open the sixth.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound left-hander threw two balls to Espinosa, the No. 8 batter who entered with a .165 average. Espinosa swung at the next pitch, a 95-mph fastball, and hit a line drive that floated just out of Segura’s reach at shortstop and into left field for the Angels’ first hit.
With Paxton in the stretch, Espinosa broke for second base too soon and was picked off to end the inning.
The closest the Angels came to a hit before Espinosa’a single was in the fifth, when Simmons smacked a full-count pitch toward the hole on the right side of the infield.
Valencia made a diving back-hand stop, scrambled to his feet and threw a little high to Paxton, who caught the ball and barely beat Simmons to the bag for the second out. Valbuena sent a drive to deep right field to lead off the third, but Mitch Haniger made a leaping catch at the wall.
Angels starter Jesse Chavez went five innings, giving up two runs and four hits, striking out three and walking two to fall to 5-9 with a 4.97 ERA.
Heredia led off the third with a walk and took third on Boog Powell’s one-out single to right field. Segura, who entered with a .327 average, singled to center for a 1-0 lead, and Gamel’s groundout to first advanced the runners to second and third.
Cano was walked intentionally to load the bases, and Chavez got Haniger to pop out to second, ending the inning. Powell hit a one-out single to right in the fifth and scored on Segura’s double to left-center for a 2-0 lead.
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