SEATTLE (AP) — A week after the worst start of his career, Mike Leake came back with his best.
Leake took a perfect game into the ninth inning, losing his bid at baseball immortality when rookie Luis Rengifo hit a leadoff single as the Seattle Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 10-0 Friday night.
“It was fun,” Leake said. “As you get closer, you get the shakes and you have to calm yourself down. Other than that, it’s just a matter of making pitches.”
There were hugs all around the clubhouse after Leake finished off a one-hitter and stopped Seattle’s six-game losing streak.
It was an amazing turnaround from his previous outing — the Angels tagged him for seven runs on eight hits in a walk last Friday while he got just two outs, the only time he’s been pulled from a start without getting through the first inning. Seattle lost that game 13-0 as two Angels pitchers combined for a no-hitter on a day their club wore the jerseys of late teammate Tyler Skaggs.
“Wow,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s baseball, it’s just crazy. . Just five, six days ago, he was pitching and they were on everything. So you just never know what you’re going to see when you come to the park.”
Leake hadn’t come close to giving up a hit before Rengifo sent his 79th pitch cleanly between the first and second baseman. He hadn’t gone to a three-ball count on any batter and had reached two balls on just six until the ninth.
The fans gave Leake a standing ovation after the hit and he quickly waved to acknowledge their cheers.
“I had confidence because we’d faced him two times in the game,” Rengifo said.
After a walk to Kevan Smith, Leake (8-8) retired the next three batters, striking out Mike Trout on a full-count pitch to end it. Leake fanned six and walked one.
Though all smiles, the bearded, 31-year-old righty admitted he was disappointed. He’d never made it past the seventh inning with a no-hitter at any level.
“Oh, yeah, to get that close,” Leake said. “Hopefully there’s another shot, though.”
Leake threw his second career shutout, erasing the sting of his last start.
“I think a little bit more urgency,” Leake said when asked about the difference. “They came out super urgent last game and I didn’t want that to happen again.”
Leake, who has been the subject of trade speculation with the rebuilding Mariners, improved to 101-95 in 10 seasons. This was his sixth career complete game, and second this year, in 284 starts.
There have been 23 perfect games in major league history, the last by Felix Hernandez of the Mariners in 2012, who was in the dugout cheering Leake.
Leake said his teammates began to drift away from him in the dugout as the game progressed. Toward the end no one was talking to him, though he would occasionally catch guys eyeballing him to see what he was doing.
Daniel Vogelbach hit two three-run homers and drove in a career high-tying six runs against reliever Jaime Barria (3-3).
Leake kept the Angels off the bases with a fastball that was right around 88 mph, along with a cutter, changeup and curve.
“He mixes pitches and mixes speeds,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “You’ve got the cutter and sinker moving in two directions. He’s got the big curveball. He can sometimes drop his arm a little bit on that and make it sweep away from righties. He did an excellent job, threw strikes. Not a ton of strikeouts, but not a lot of solid contact by us as well. It was his night.”
Seattle has six no-hitters in its history, the last by James Paxton against Toronto in May 2018.
The Mariners hadn’t won since before the All-Star break, a stretch that included their no-hitter loss in LA, and had lost 13 of their last 15.
Vogelbach made it 3-0 with a homer in the fourth. He hit his 23rd home run in the fifth.
Angels: Albert Pujols sat out Friday’s game as a precaution. The first baseman came out of Thursday night’s game against the Astros with left hamstring tightness. Manager Brad Ausmus said the hope is Pujols will be ready for Saturday’s game against the Mariners. . Reliever Keynan Middleton’s rehab assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake City has been shut down due to numbness and tingling in his pitching arm. Ausmus said a test showed that Middleton’s grafted UCL remains attached. There’s no timetable for his return.
Mariners: Closer Hunter Strickland will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday in his return from a right lat strain that’s kept him out since March. Servais said he will need to make three or four appearances in Tacoma before returning to the major league roster to regain his endurance. But he can’t get into the lineup soon enough with Seattle’s struggles in the bullpen. … Center fielder Mallex Smith left the game after the fifth inning with a sore right thumb he injured in the game.
Angels: RHP Griffin Canning (3-5, 4.74 ERA) will make his first career start against the Mariners.
Mariners: Seattle will send a pitcher to be determined to the mound for an inning before turning it over to LHP Wade LeBlanc (5-3, 5.15 ERA).
More AP baseball coverage: www.apnews.com/MLB and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports