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1:07 PM PT2:07 PM MT3:07 PM CT4:07 PM ET16:07 ET20:07 GMT4:07 1:07 PM MST3:07 PM EST3:37 PM VEN0:07 UAE (+1)3:07 PM CT, July 14, 2019
Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California  Attendance: 38,560

Kikuchi looks to recapture early magic vs. Angels

According to STATS
According to STATS

Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels

  1. After opening the season 11-1 on the road, Seattle has gone 9-25 -- tied with Baltimore for the AL's worst road record since April 21. However, the Mariners have won nine of their last 12 games in Anaheim.
  2. Seattle's 160 home runs are the third most any team has ever had at the All-Star break behind this year's Twins (166) and last season's Yankees (161). The Mariners haven't hit 160 home runs in an entire season in 25 of their 43 years of existence.
  3. The Angels have allowed a home run in 22 consecutive games, the longest streak in franchise history and longest in the majors this season. The only longer streaks in the last 20 years were all stretches of exactly 26 games by the 2001 Astros, 2004 Mariners and 2017 Orioles.
  4. Dee Gordon has only two stolen bases in his last 19 games and is at 15 on the season. He'll need to match that total in the second half to avoid his first season of less than 30 steals since 2013. Gordon and Billy Hamilton are the only players to have swiped 30 bags in each of the past five seasons.
  5. Shohei Ohtani has a .712 slugging percentage since the start of June, second best among AL qualifiers behind Mike Trout (.730). Ohtani had only a .363 slugging percentage in 20 games in May.
  6. All of the Angels will be wearing jersey No. 45 in tribute to Tyler Skaggs, who wore that number until his untimely passing earlier this month. Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella wore No. 45 to honor Skaggs at Tuesday's All-Star Game.
Notes Applicable For Series Dates: 7/12/2019 thru 7/14/2019

Yusei Kikuchi will start on the mound Sunday for the Seattle Mariners against the Los Angeles Angels, and upon a closer look, one can't help but reflect on the journey of another pitcher who came to the major leagues from Japan.

Nearly 25 years ago, Hideo Nomo jumped from Japan to the majors, joining the Los Angeles Dodgers amid international fanfare. Surely, Nomo felt pressure to prove a Japanese player could hold his own in the majors, and Nomo succeeded greatly.

Kikuchi, who signed with Seattle as a free agent during the offseason, has not faced nearly the same pressure or fanfare since coming to the majors as many other Japanese players have since followed Nomo to find success in the majors. But there are a number of striking similarities between Kikuchi and Nomo.

Nomo was 26 when he joined the Dodgers in 1995; Kikuchi was 27, and recently turned 28. Nomo spent five seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, going 78-46 with a 3.15 ERA in 139 games; Kikuchi was 73-46 with a 2.77 ERA in 158 games over eight seasons in the NPB.

Kikuchi also found himself thrown into the fire almost immediately. He started the Mariners' second game of the year, part of the two-game series against the Oakland A's that was played in Japan.

Kikuchi got a no-decision in that one, but the Mariners won the game and Kikuchi pitched well enough, giving up two runs (one earned) and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. His first major league win came a month later on April 20, in his sixth major league start, against the Angels.

Overall, Kikuchi got off to a good start, going 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA in his first 11 starts, but he's struggled as major league hitters have gotten more opportunities to see him pitch. In 19 starts this year, he is 4-6 with a 4.94 ERA.

"I feel like I got off to a really good start and kind of hit a bumpy road," he said through an interpreter. "There were a bunch of learning points during that time. Now I'm back where I want to be. I got to experience the ups and downs of a season in the first half and that's going to help me grow in my career."

He's faced the Angels three times this season, going 1-2 with a 12.34 ERA. In all, Angels hitters have crushed Kikuchi, hitting .475 (29-for-61) with home runs by Kole Calhoun, Tommy La Stella, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.

Trout homered in the first two games of the series and has hit eight in his past seven games, reaching 30 for the season in 93 team games, a club record.

The Angels' starter Sunday, Jose Suarez, made his major league debut on June 2 against the Mariners and earned the victory, giving up three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He faced the Mariners again in his second start but lost that one, giving up two runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Overall, Suarez is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in six starts, getting an opportunity the club didn't necessarily think it would have for him so quickly. But the death of Tyler Skaggs and injuries throughout the season to Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, Andrew Heaney and JC Ramirez have forced the club to test its depth. Suarez, though, has been a pleasant addition.

"I'm impressed with his confidence," catcher Kevan Smith told reporters. "I'm impressed with all the young guys, (second baseman Luis) Rengifo, (pitcher Griffin) Canning, Suarez. They act like they've been up here for a few years. It's awesome. It's comforting. ... They go out and trust their stuff and compete. That's all you can ask."

--Field Level Media

Updated July 14, 2019

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