Mariners seemed set up by Angels, put into no-win situation by umps
The Mariners and Angels won’t play each other again until Aug. 5, but considering how ugly things got early in their game on Sunday, it’s unlikely the bad blood between the two teams will die down by then.
Little if any of it is really the Mariners’ fault, even though they’ll almost assuredly be dealt more impactful punishment than the Angels for the brawl following not one but two pitches thrown at Seattle batters by Angels pitcher Andrew Wantz.
That’s what Mike Salk and Mariners insider Shannon Drayer, who covered Sunday’s game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, discussed Monday morning on Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk Show. You can listen to their segment in the podcast player below. After that, let’s take a close look at a few of the points they hit on.
Why didn’t the umpires didn’t know this was coming?
It seemed that the umpires were the last people in the stadium to know there was a possibility of tensions boiling over Sunday. After a pitch in a tense ninth inning situation of Seattle’s 5-3 win on Saturday night by reliever Erik Swanson sailed over Mike Trout’s head, the Angels superstar made comments to the media sharing his unhappiness. That came shortly after Angels interim manager Phil Nevin yelled at Mariners manager Scott Servais from his dugout, shouting numerous expletives and pointing at his head, indicating he had payback in mind.
On Sunday, Nevin switched his scheduled starter from José Suárez to Wantz, who would serve as an opener. The move so blatantly telegraphed that the Angels intended to throw at a Mariners hitter that the potential of it happening was the topic of the roundtable segment on the Mariners pregame show on Seattle Sports.
Yet when Wantz’s first pitch to the second batter of the game, Julio Rodríguez, sailed behind the Mariners rookie phenom’s head, the umpires only issued a warning and let Wantz stay in the game. That allowed him to then drill Jesse Winker in the hip to open the second inning, which set off the brawl.
So why did the umpires let it get that far?
“I don’t know, and I’ve got a real problem with that,” Drayer said. “I said that on the postgame show last night and I saw a lot of people retweeted it and I rethought it – ‘Should I have said that?’ And I got even a little bit madder about it when I thought about it further. You know, obviously something was going on heading into that game.”
Even if the crew didn’t see the exchange after the game Saturday night between Nevin and Servais, Drayer said they should have had plenty of time to figure out something was going to happen.
“The umpires may not have seen that, and they probably didn’t because they’re off the field at that point, but Trout’s comments were there in the media. There was a buzz in the stadium that morning,” she said. “Nevin took out the starter that he announced the day before and put in an opener. So my thing is they should have known something is up, and I got even further incensed when I thought about it. Umpires get to the stadium about two hours after I do every day, they leave probably an hour and a half before I do – they’ve got plenty of time to look into these things in their preparation for a game, and that didn’t happen. … I almost fully expected there to be a warning from the start of the game and there wasn’t.”
That left the Mariners in a no-win situation, according to Salk.
“They put the Mariners unfortunately in a position where, what are they supposed to do?” he said. “They can’t hit someone themselves, they can’t charge the mound, yet they’re supposed to just absorb balls being thrown at them? I’m not really sure what they’re supposed to do.”
— Mike Salk, Seattle Sports Station (@TheMikeSalk) June 27, 2022
Angels set up the Mariners
What transpired in the first two innings Sunday probably could not have gone better for the Angels or worse for the Mariners. And while Seattle’s hitters were the only ones thrown at, the Mariners are likely to be hurt the most by suspensions.
Winker and shortstop J.P. Crawford, two of Seattle’s best hitters, were both ejected for fighting in the brawl. So was Rodríguez, though the reasoning for that wasn’t clear. At least Winker and Crawford will be suspended, and probably Servais, too. As for the Angels, Nevin and three relievers – Wantz, Ryan Tepera and Raisel Iglesias – were all ejected and are likely to be suspended. So no hitters or starting pitchers.
“That’s one of the things in my notes for today is how the how the Mariners got set up by the Angels,” Salk said. “… (If I was talking about the Angels on LA radio), I guess I would say something like, ‘This was genius. They found a way to exact their revenge without putting any risk whatsoever into it.’ Who’s going to possibly be punished that matters to the Angels?”
The way the umpires handled the situation even worked against Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales.
“The minute the warning is put on, Marco has to rethink everything because he can’t even accidentally hit someone,” Drayer said. “Meanwhile, the Angels have planned it so they have an opener starting and they don’t care – they want him to hit somebody and get ejected. So their starter, who was Suárez, he was (waiting) until somebody got hit and is just fine. So yeah, the Mariners were in a bad spot there and it was very deliberate how that was set up by the Angels.”
The Mariners can ill-afford to lose more offensive firepower with Ty France, Mitch Haniger, Kyle Lewis and Tom Murphy all on the injured list, but they’re going to.
“The other thing that’s just so irritating about it – I mean, I understand why the Mariners ran out on the field and why J.P. was jumping in there to try and defend Jesse Winker, but you’re already down (some of) your top offensive players,” Drayer said. “That’s the last thing they need is to lose more hitters. And you look over on the Angels’ side… where is Mike Trout in all of this? In every video I saw, he’s very much on the outskirts.”
Where was Mike Trout, indeed.
“He’s hiding because that’s what robot Mike Trout does,” said Salk. “He’s programmed to hide on the edges of the skirmish that he started by being a wuss.”
A skirmish he inflamed with pretty questionable reasoning, at that.
“It was surprising to see the comments afterwards (Saturday from Trout) because you don’t usually see anything from him, let alone something like that, let alone something that seemed wrong,” Drayer said, “because Erik Swanson clearly did not have good command of his fastball up in the zone in that game. He threw multiple pitches that were in that general vicinity in that inning, and that one, yes, it did come closer to Trout’s head, but that’s where you have to pitch to him. You’re not going to be pitching down in the zone. You’re going to try to not leave yourself any kind of chance where the ball is going to leak out over any lower part of the zone – that’s what he hits. And so Swanson was off. He was missing in the correct direction. … When I heard about (Trout’s comments), I thought, ‘You know better. You know he was not trying to hit you.'”
I should have posted this earlier but Swanson was clearly struggling with fastball command his entire outing Saturday. pic.twitter.com/MW3oWnocpX
— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) June 27, 2022