SEATTLE — So much for their Mariners’ revamped right-handed lineup, the one that added three veteran bats to make it less susceptible to left-handed opponents.
The first time out, Tuesday night, was a complete zero.
Los Angeles Angels veteran C.J. Wilson stymied the Mariners over eight masterful innings in a 2-0 victory at Safeco Field that squared the season’s first series at one victory apiece.
“He looks like he’s throwing darts,” first baseman Logan Morrison said. “He was painting really well, hitting the outside corner on both lefties and righties.
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“He has four pitches, but if he can spot all of them, it’s more like eight pitches. Inside, outside; inside, outside with whatever. He was doing a good job of that tonight."
The three-game set concludes Wednesday night.
“For me,” Wilson said, “that’s not a masterpiece. I pitched better when I beat these guys at the end of last year. But it was a good night.”
Wilson’s effectiveness typically hinges on his command — he led the American League last season in walks — but he had just one freebie in shutting down the Mariners on a cool night with temperatures in the low 50s.
“We haven’t seen that kind of stuff,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “since probably mid-season last year. I think it points to the fact that he’s healthy. You can’t really command the ball better than C.J. did.”
The Mariners have seen this before. Too often before.
Wilson improved to 16-8 in his career against them. He has 11 victories over Oakland but fewer than eight against every other opponent.
“We always seem to catch him on a good night,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s been tough against us. Tonight was no different. He really hit his spots good.”
Mariners starter James Paxton worked six strong innings but stumbled briefly in the fourth inning.
Albert Pujols pulled a one-out double past left fielder Justin Ruggiano for the Angels’ first hit. David Freese followed by driving a 1-0 fastball over the right-center wall for a two-run homer.
“I was just trying to hit something hard,” Freese said. “I didn’t think we were going to get too many opportunities against a guy like that, against a staff like that.”
It was an impressive display on a night when the ball didn’t carry well.
“I just made a couple of mistakes,” Paxton said. “I left a cutter over the plate to Pujols, and he hit that ball hard. I made a mistake to Freese. I left that fastball up and away to him, and that’s where he hit the ball hard.
“I was trying to go down and away, and I left it up.”
Freese’s homer was enough for Wilson, who retired 17 in a row after Rickie Weeks’ one-out single in the third inning.
Wilson struck out just one but allowed only two hits in a 96-pitch performance before Huston Street gained a save by closing out the victory. Paxton gave up four hits, walked one and struck out five.
“I felt good out there,” Paxton said. “My stuff was coming out pretty well. I just made those couple of mistakes.”
This was precisely the sort of performance by an opposing left-hander the Mariners sought to minimize in adding Weeks, Ruggiano and home run champ Nelson Cruz — all right-handed hitters — in the off-season.
“Sure we did,” McClendon said. “That doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. It’s baseball. The guy pitched a (heck) of a game tonight.”
The Mariners’ only threat against Wilson came in the second inning when a leadoff single by Cruz and a one-out walk to Ruggiano put runners at first and second.
Wilson escaped when Morrison grounded into a force at second, and Mike Zunino flied to right.
“Early, we had an opportunity to get some runs across,” Morrison said. “It didn’t happen. Then, he settled in and hit his spots pretty well.”