For nine innings, the Mariners had kept Angels star Mike Trout down.
Unfortunately for Seattle, there was a 10th inning.
Trout, who was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts through nine innings, hit a two-out, two-run home run in the 10th, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-2 win Saturday afternoon in the first game of a day-night doubleheader at T-Mobile Park.
With a runner on third base, Trout hit Diego Castillo’s 1-1 pitch into the right-center field stands, his 50th career home run against Seattle to break the 2-2 tie.
Seattle will need to win Saturday night to keep alive its chances of winning the five-game series.
“Diego has been our best relief pitcher here in probably his last 10 or 12 outings,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “He hadn’t been scored upon in (his past nine innings) and had been throwing the ball great. I went with Diego and it didn’t work out.”
Servais said having the left-handed Ohtani up next led to his decision to have Castillo, a right-hander, face the right-handed Trout.
“Last year’s MVP (Ohtani) is in the on-deck circle, so that weighs into the decision,” Servais said.
Servais said the analtyics favored Castillo facing Trout, “as crazy as that seems.”
“You get paid to make those decisions and I need to be right more than I am wrong,” Servais said. “Today, I’ve got to give (Trout) credit. He hit the ball out of the ballpark, he just didn’t get a hit.”
The Mariners had plenty of offense Friday night, scoring eight runs on 11 hits, but it was much tougher Saturday afternoon as they failed to convert some good chances late in the game.
The Mariners didn’t have a baserunner through two innings, but that changed in a hurry when Dylan Moore led off the third with a homer to left field to give them a 1-0 lead.
The lead did not last long. Flexen began the fourth inning by striking out Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh. Matt Duffy hit a single to right field, Brandon Marsh walked on a full count and light-hitting catcher Kurt Suzuki hit a two-run double that just evaded the glove of a diving Moore in left field.
But Flexen worked out of a jam in the fifth. With a runner on third and one out, he struck out Trout and got Ohtani to ground out.
When Flexen got into trouble again in the sixth, giving up a one-out single to Duffy and a two-out double to Marsh to put runners on second and third, he was pulled from the game.
Enter reliever Andres Munoz – who struck out Suzuki and Tyler Wade to keep the Angels lead at 2-1.
Flexen allowed the two earned runs on six hits and two walks but he did enough to keep the Mariners in the game in his 5 1/3 innings.
Seattle just needed some offense, but there was little of that in the first six innings against Angels starter Pedro Sandoval, who allowed just one run.
The Mariners evened the score in the seventh on a run-scoring single by Julio Rodriguez with one out. But Seattle could have – and probably have – scored more.
After Rodriguez stole second, Ty France struck out on a 3-2 pitch and J.P. Crawford grounded out. You had to wonder if that missed chance would come back to haunt the Mariners.
The Mariners were in need of a big hit again in the eighth inning after Jesse Winker and Adam Frazier had one-out pinch-hit singles but Moore and Abraham Toro flew out to end the inning.
That became more painful when Trout hit his 31st career homer at T-Mobile Park, the most by any opposing player.
“We had some chances to get the lead and extend that,” Servais said. “We weren’t able to do that and ultimately it got us.”