Lost amid a flurry of home runs and a 7-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night was a solid Angels debut by veteran right-hander Julio Teheran, a significant development for a team that lost the pitching services of two-way player Shohei Ohtani to an elbow injury for the rest of the season.
Teheran, a late arrival to summer camp because of a bout with the coronavirus, settled down after a leadoff walk to J.P. Crawford to retire the next three batters in the first inning. He struck out two in a scoreless second before giving up one-out bloop singles to Crawford and Dylan Moore in the third.
Teheran got Kyle Lewis to fly to right field for the second out, but with his pitch count at 52, just shy of his 60-pitch limit, manager Joe Maddon summoned left-hander Ryan Buchter to face left-handed slugger Kyle Seager, who crushed a three-run homer to right for a 3-1 Seattle lead.
Mike Trout hit two homers and drove in four runs, and Max Stassi and David Fletcher each hit solo homers, but that wasn’t enough to prevent a loss that dropped the Angels to 4-8.
“Obviously, I was trying to convince Joe to stay [in the game], but he knows it’s a process we have to follow, and we don’t want to force it,” Teheran said. “Hopefully in my next outing, or the one [after that], I will be able to go as long as I want to and will want to.”
After the leadoff walk, Teheran, who signed a one-year, $9-million deal last winter, was able to locate his four-seam fastball, which averaged 89 mph and topped out at 91 mph, on both corners and effectively mix his slider and two-seam fastball. He did not give up a hard-hit ball.
“I felt that everything was in control,” Teheran said. “My first at-bat, it was all over the place. A lot of emotions going on, but I kind of got control of the game and I was able to do what I know to do: command my pitches and control the pace of the game.”
Maddon said Teheran’s fastball velocity “was really good, much better than we had been told from Blair Field,” the team’s alternate training site in Long Beach, where Teheran had been working out and pitching in intrasquad games.
The adrenaline of a regular-season game against a major league opponent, even in a stadium without fans, probably contributed to Teheran’s uptick in velocity.
“In simulated games, it wasn’t there,” Teheran said. “I was trying to get my mind in a regular game, but there was something natural that doesn’t let you [get there]. Having a hitter with the same uniform that I have, it doesn’t give you that adrenaline that you get in a regular game.
“I was trying to take it like a regular game, but it wasn’t. Today, I felt more adrenaline. I was able to pump more [into] my fastball, throw hard and throw in to hitters — something that in a simulated game I wasn’t able to do, because you’re kind of scared [when facing] your own teammates to hurt somebody.”