Shohei Ohtani hits 40th HR after leaving mound early as Mariners rally past Angels with grand slam in 9th

Shohei Ohtani left the mound after only four scoreless innings due to cramping in his pitching hand and fingers, but then hit his major league-leading 40th homer before his Los Angeles Angels blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning of a 5-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.

Ohtani said he wasn’t sure whether the cramping, which was largely in his right middle finger, would force him to miss a mound start. Ohtani also had problems with cramps during the Angels’ just-completed trip, leaving consecutive games early with lower-body cramping.

“It’s not just my finger,” Ohtani said through his translator. “I’ve been kind of getting cramps all over the place. I felt like maybe I could have gone another inning or two, but I’m trying to feel out how my hand feels, and it’s a 0-0 game. I couldn’t give up any runs, and I felt like it was better for the team to stop pitching there.”

Rookie Cade Marlowe hit his first career grand slam in the ninth for the Mariners, who rallied from a two-run deficit against All-Star closer Carlos Estévez (5-2) to steal the win. In his 12th major league game, Marlowe got around on a high 99.8-mph fastball in an 0-2 count.

“I was just thinking about getting on top of something, hitting a hard line drive,” Marlowe said. “Swung through the first two at the top, and finally got on top of one, the last one.”

Ohtani drilled a 107-mph line drive off Isaiah Campbell (2-0) into the stands in right at Angel Stadium in the eighth inning, securing his second career 40-homer season with the solo shot. Ohtani reached base four times and scored the tying run in the sixth for the Angels (57-53), who opened a seven-game homestand with their fifth loss in seven games despite their two-way superstar’s latest remarkable effort.

“I wish I could have gone close to 100 pitches and save the bullpen, help them out,” said Ohtani, who joined Mike Trout and Troy Glaus as the only players in Angels history with multiple 40-homer seasons. “But a loss is a loss. It happens. Just got to turn the page.”

Shohei Ohtani blasts his MLB-leading 40th HR of the season

The Angels were two outs from a win before Marlowe hit his team’s first grand slam in the ninth inning or later while Seattle was trailing since Richie Sexson did it Sept. 19, 2005, at Toronto.

“He’s an awesome competitor,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s not overthinking it. Just playing baseball. … That was some kind of swing. It’s 100 miles an hour at the top of the zone. As a young player, you’re just trying to get the bat there.”

Estévez walked two and gave up a single before Marlowe’s blast in his first blown save for the Angels in 24 opportunities this season.

“He’s the first guy that hits a fastball outside of the strike zone against me (this season), and what a time to do it,” Estévez said. “No one thinks I was going to be perfect for the rest of my career. Come on. But it’s just a game. It is important, and it is tough, but we’ve got a lot more games to go.”

Cade Marlowe’s ninth-inning grand slam lifts Mariners over Angels

Eugenio Suárez also homered for the Mariners, who have won seven of nine to move 1 1/2 games ahead of the Angels in the AL wild-card race. Suárez tied a Mariners franchise record with an RBI in his ninth consecutive game.

Ohtani threw only 59 pitches in his shortest start not caused by a rain delay in nearly a full year. He struck out four and allowed only three soft singles in his first start since throwing a one-hit shutout in Detroit for his first major league complete game last week.

Ohtani said he took a few practice swings to make sure he could continue hitting with his cramping hand, and he tied it in the sixth by drawing his second walk, stealing second and scoring on C.J. Cron’s single. Mike Moustakas then drove in Cron with a long double off Seattle rookie Bryan Woo, who allowed four hits and struck out six.

Andrés Muñoz pitched the ninth for his fourth save.

Cron’s single extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games in his Anaheim homecoming game. He rejoined the Angels last week in a trade after spending his first four major league seasons with the Angels.

Cron was acquired from Colorado along with Randal Grichuk, who went 0 for 4 in his Angels home debut 14 years after the team drafted him in the first round, one pick ahead of Mike Trout.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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