The Los Angeles Angels can't afford to lose much more ground to the Seattle Mariners heading into the second game of their three-game series Tuesday night at Safeco Field in Seattle.
The Angels lost the series opener to the AL West-leading Mariners (42-24) on Monday night, 5-3, getting solo home runs from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but giving up two-run homers to Nelson Cruz and Ryon Healy, as well as a solo homer from Cruz. They are 5 1/2 games back of the Mariners.
"Those guys (on the Angels) have power. They really do," Seattle manager Scott Servais told reporters afterward. "They are special players. The guys who have put up numbers in this league and continue to. When you're in the other dugout and Mike Trout steps up there it's not a great feeling. He had a good night tonight and we got to try to make some adjustments with himtomorrow. He's a tough out."
It was a particularly difficult loss to swallow for Los Angeles (37-30) and left-hander Andrew Heaney (3-5), who had thrown a one-hit shutout in his previous outing against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
"Andrew just looked like he missed some spots with his fast ball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters afterward. "Those guys tonight didn't miss him. Cruz got ahold of a couple fast balls. It just didn't seem like he got settled in to be able to repeat pitches like he did in his last start."
Of additional concern was Angels first baseman Jefry Marte, who left in the second inning with a wrist injury after colliding with Mariners second baseman Dee Gordon, who was running out a ground ball.
Scioscia said X-rays were negative.
"He will be evaluated (Tuesday)," Scioscia said.
Angels rookie Jaime Barria (5-1, 2.48 ERA) will make his eighth start of the season and he could become a regular in the rotation as Shohei Ohtani remains out.
Barria is coming off four shutout innings against the Texas Rangers in a 6-0 win on June 1. He'll be opposed by veteran right-hander Mike Leake (6-3, 4.46 ERA). He has strung together four consecutive quality starts to lower his ERA from 6.00 in the middle of May.
Leake faced the Angels on May 4 in Seattle and allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-0 loss. He has made three starts against Los Angeles overall in his nine-year career and is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA.
Leake will try to keep the Mariners on a roll. They are 9-2 since May 31, and 18-5 since May. 18.
"Me, personally, and our coaching staff are really looking forward to the next couple of weeks of baseball," Servais said. "We really believe in this team. Our guys believe in themselves and we're going to face some good clubs and we're looking forward to it. It's going to be a lot of fun."