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On Thursday night, the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels will square off in an AL West matchup from Anaheim. With these teams separated by a half-game in the standings, and the Wild Card race still in the realm of possibility for both teams, this contest carries a ton of significance on both ends. And with Shohei Ohtani on the mound, there will be plenty of intrigue beyond the standings ramifications.
The Seattle Mariners have won two of their last three games, winning their most recent series against the Boston Red Sox. The Mariners are 3.5 games behind the final Wild Card spot in the American League going into Thursday night. Here, the Mariners will need to overcome Shohei Ohtani on the mound if they are going to come away with a win that would help their Wild Card chances.
Opposing Ohtani on the mound to start this game will be Bryan Woo, who has not had a great season in Seattle. Woo is 1-3 on the year with a 4.96 ERA in 49 innings of work, though he has averaged over a strikeout per inning. He faces an Angels team that lacks depth in its lineup, but does have some individual threats from a power perspective.
Offensively, the key to winning this game for the Mariners will be finding some power output against Ohtani. Ohtani averages about a home run every 10 innings or so, but with Ohtani averaging over a strikeout per inning of his own, the Mariners may struggle to string singles together to score runs. The middle of the Mariners’ order will have to step up to deliver in this matchup.
The Los Angeles Angels are in the midst of a two-game losing streak, having fallen to the Atlanta Braves in two of the three games of their recent series. That has put the Angels in fourth place in the AL West, and four games back of the final AL Wild Card spot. Here, the Angels will feel like they must win, with Shohei Ohtani on the mound to face their division rivals at home.
For Ohtani, the question is whether he can put together another solid performance against the Mariners. He enters this game at 1-0 in two starts against Seattle this season, giving up four earned runs in his 11 innings of work against Seattle. He is coming off of a complete game shutout against the Detroit Tigers in his last start, and carrying that momentum forward against the Mariners would be huge for the Angels.
This game could also serve as a last stand for Ohtani’s AL Cy Young candidacy, as he enters this game at +2000 to win that award. A bad start for Ohtani could all but eliminate him from consideration, while a great start could move him back into the mix for the award. But more important than any individual awards is the potential for Ohtani to help the Angels continue to contend for a spot in the postseason.
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Jay Sanin is a sports bettor and writer from New York. He has been handicapping since the moment he was old enough to gamble legally, with his specialties being niche sports like the WNBA and XFL. He’s been told he has a voice for radio. He also has a face for radio.More info on Jay Sanin
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