SEATTLE — An underground utility cable in downtown failed Friday night, knocking out power to parts of T-Mobile Park. Two concession stands were affected. The out-of-town scoreboard above the bullpens in left-center field went dark. The main video board in center field went dark too, until it began flashing sporadically in the fifth inning of the Angels’ game against the Mariners.
The flashes were a potential distraction. Trevor Gooby, the Mariners’ senior vice president of ballpark operations, stepped onto the field to consult with the managers and umpires. The players stood around for five minutes, waiting while the game was delayed. Andrelton Simmons was frozen in a 1-and-2 count before a restless crowd.
A technical glitch was the only thing that could stop Mariners pitcher Mike Leake.
When play resumed, Simmons foul-tipped a changeup for strike three, a footnote to a footnote as Leake fell three outs short of throwing the 24th perfect game in major league history. Leake did not allow a baserunner until Luis Rengifo singled in the ninth inning of the Angels’ 10-0 loss to the Mariners.
“I think he threw very well today,” Rengifo said of Leake. “In and out, changeup, curveball. My last at-bat, the only thing, I got ready for breaking ball or changeup, and I got that hit to the right side.”
Leake (8-8) completed his second career shutout in a mere 98 pitches. No Angels hitter saw a three-ball count until Kevan Smith walked immediately after Rengifo’s single. When Leake struck out Mike Trout for the game’s final out, Rengifo was stranded on third base. Leake struck out six Angels in all.
It was the third consecutive loss for the Angels (50-49), who are one game behind the third-place Rangers (50-47) and 12 behind the first-place Astros (62-37) in the American League West.
The outcome of this game was seldom in doubt. Mariners first baseman Daniel Vogelbach hit a pair of three-run home runs against Angels pitcher Jaime Barría (3-3), accounting for six of the Mariners’ 10 runs. After opener Taylor Cole threw two shutout innings, Barría was charged with 10 runs in 3⅔ innings. His ERA rose from 5.22 to 7.36.
“I wasn’t locating my pitches, allowed too many walks,” Barría said through an interpreter. “That’s what happens when you get in bad counts. It was a bad outing for me.”
The game eerily mirrored the last time Leake pitched against the Angels, seven days ago in Anaheim. The veteran right-hander recorded only two outs that night. He was charged with allowing seven of the Angels’ 13 runs. Most memorably, Cole and Felix Peña combined to throw a no-hitter. Every Angels player wore a number 45 Tyler Skaggs jersey in their first home game since the death of their teammate. That game featured every emotion a baseball game could contain.
The Angels ostensibly left all their emotions at home when they departed for a three-game trip to Seattle, to say nothing of their bats. No pitcher had thrown a no-hitter against the Angels since the Twins’ Eric Milton on Sept. 11, 1999. Kenny Rogers threw the only previous perfect game against the Angels on July 28, 1994.
“Guys battled and tried to have good at-bats,” Ausmus said. “We didn’t have bad at-bats. We didn’t look overmatched. But we didn’t make a ton of solid contact. We hit a few balls hard but right at guys. And when you have a perfect game bid go that deep, you’re going to have that.”
Shohei Ohtani had the game’s hardest hit, a 108-mph fly ball to center field. Mallex Smith got a good jump and made the catch look easy. Mike Trout hit a 107-mph line drive to the shortstop hole in his third at-bat, but J.P. Crawford caught it an inch above the ground. The Angels’ best plays were on defense.
Kole Calhoun made two diving catches in right field – one to rob J.P. Crawford in the fifth inning, another to deny Kristopher Negron in the sixth. Trevor Cahill and Jared Walsh did not allow a run over the game’s final 2⅓ innings. Walsh also played first base, and the Angels played the final inning without a designated hitter.
The more lasting concern was Barría. Prior to the game, Ausmus labeled Barría the favorite to take the rotation spot of Matt Harvey, who was designated for assignment.
After the game, Barría conceded that the constant shuttle to and from Triple-A – this is his seventh separate major-league stint – has been wearing on him.
“Sometimes I pitch here, get sent down, sit at home for two days, and then rejoin Salt Lake,” he said. “It’s hard because I’ve been doing the work to stay here. But I always try to give my best.”
If there was room for optimism Friday, perhaps pitching every fifth day for the Angels could help Barría stabilize his return.
“I think so,” he said. “Being here I can relax. I can focus on my pitches. I don’t have to worry about if I pitch well they send me down, or if I pitch a bad game and they still send me down. I always try to come here and more than anything I think I have the possibility to pitch better next time.”
A shutout on 98 pitches.
— MLB (@MLB) July 20, 2019
4th inning: 3-run homer
5th inning: 3-run homer
Absolute unit. pic.twitter.com/rhZVNCpHcx
— MLB (@MLB) July 20, 2019