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OC Register: Angels bullpen implodes, spoiling big offensive night

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ANAHEIM — Mike Mayers and Jacob Barnes, a pair of relievers who had been favorites of Joe Maddon, endured a rough night to cost the Angels a victory.

The Angels blew leads in the sixth and seventh innings on their way a 10-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.

Mayers and Barnes were charged with a combined six runs while recording just two outs.

Maddon spoke often during spring training and summer camp about how much he admired those pitchers when they faced his Chicago Cubs, when Mayers was with the St. Louis Cardinals and Barnes with the Milwaukee Brewers.

They spoiled a night in which Shohei Ohtani hit a three-run homer, his first of the year, and Justin Upton hit the 300th homer of his career. Brian Goodwin also homered and had a two-run double.

All of that should have been enough after Andrew Heaney allowed just one run through five innings. He took a 4-1 lead to the sixth, when the game began to unravel.

Heaney was in total control for the first three innings, facing the minimum and striking out five and needing just 36 pitches for nine outs.

His second time through the lineup was a little more challenging. He gave up four hits, but escaped with just one run on the board, in part because Dee Gordon was thrown out trying to steal third in the fifth.

Heaney walked J.P. Crawford to start the sixth, the fifth batter in the previous 10 to reach base, so Maddon pulled Heaney after 64 pitches.

Heaney was pulled after 67 pitches on Opening Night, a start he was making following a minor bout with back stiffness. On that night the Angels blew a seventh-inning lead and lost in 10 innings.

On Wednesday night, Mayers entered and proceeded to allow four of the next six batters to reach, including a three-run homer to Dylan Moore that put Seattle up 6-4.

The Angels immediately rallied with three runs of their own, on Upton’s homer and Goodwin’s double, to retake the lead.

Barnes then started the seventh and couldn’t get an out. He gave up a single and then back-to-back walks, loading the bases as Ty Buttrey was summoned to try to bail him out. Buttrey retired all three hitters he faced, but the first two outs pushed home runs.

The Mariners added some insurance in the eighth, when Crawford singled to cap a 10-pitch at-bat against Ryan Buchter and drove in two runs.

The Angels have now lost games when leading in the seventh inning or later twice in the first six games. It’s the difference between a 4-2 start and a 2-4 start in this sprint of a 60-game season.

The bullpen meltdown spoiled a night that could have been about Ohtani’s offensive awakening.

Ohtani had started the season 1 for 12 before drilling a double off the right-field fence on Tuesday night. Maddon suggested that could give him confidence that would get him on a roll.

Sure enough, Ohtani smoked a 107 mph line drive in his first at-bat on Wednesday, only to be robbed of a hit by diving right fielder Tim Lopes.

In Ohtani’s next trip, in the fourth with two runners on, he fell behind Justin Dunn, 0 and 2. Dunn threw Ohtani a curve ball that ducked below the zone, but Ohtani golfed it over the fence in right-center.

More to come on this story.

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