Sometimes, all it takes to break out of a slump is one swing of the bat.
Now the Angels hope one of their most important bats can help them try to get their first series win.
The Los Angeles Angels' two-way star, Shohei Ohtani, had just one hit in his first 12 at-bats of this pandemic-delayed season before lining an RBI double off the base of the wall in right-center field during Tuesday night's home opener against Seattle. The exit velocity of 111.9 mph was the highest of the game, which included home runs by Max Stassi, Albert Pujols and Anthony Rendon in a 10-2 victory.
Angels manager Joe Maddon said after the game he hoped the hit would help turn things around mentally for Ohtani, who also failed to record an out on the mound in his first start of the season last Sunday.
"He needs his own personal self-confidence," Maddon said. "That's all he needs right now. Once his confidence soars, all of a sudden the balls will be going way up on those tarps in right field. He was more on time, and the hands were firing at the right moment. It's all about self-confidence, and once that arrives, he's just going to take off."
Flash forward to Wednesday. With Los Angeles trailing 1-0 and without a hit in the bottom of the fourth inning, Ohtani lined a low, inside pitch on an 0-2 count over the wall in right-center field for a three-run shot. It was Ohtani's first home run of the season.
But the Mariners rallied to win 10-7, evening the three-game series entering the finale Thursday night in Anaheim, Calif. Dylan Moore's three-run homer capped a five-run sixth inning and Kyle Seager also drove in three runs for Seattle, with his sacrifice fly snapping a 7-7 tie in the seventh.
Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford, batting leadoff for the first time in his career, went 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs and two RBI.
When Crawford was asked after the victory if he'd be back in the leadoff spot Thursday, he shrugged.
"I don't care if I bat first, eighth or ninth, as long as my name is in the lineup," Crawford said. "I'm just trying to get on base."
The Mariners are scheduled to send left-hander Marco Gonzales (0-1, 6.23 ERA) to the mound Thursday. Gonzales took the Opening Day loss in Houston last Friday after giving up four runs (three earned) in 4 1/3 innings. But he has fared well against the Angels in the past, going 5-1 with a 4.17 ERA in 12 starts -- including 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA in six starts in Anaheim, Calif.
The Angels plan to start right-hander Dylan Bundy (1-0, 1.35). Bundy, acquired in an offseason deal with Baltimore, was strong in his first start for the Angels, giving up just one run in 6 2/3 innings at Oakland with seven strikeouts and no walks.
"It means a lot, first win in the new uniform," Bundy said. "I felt good with all four pitches, five if you include the two-seam (fastball)."
Bundy is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four career appearances against the Mariners, including two starts -- one of which was a shutout.
--Field Level Media
Angels look to bounce back, take series from M's