- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - The debut of the Seattle Mariners lineup designed to counter left-handed starting pitching was a dud, thanks to a gem from C.J. Wilson.

“We seem to always catch him on a good night. He’s been tough against us and tonight was no different,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He really hit his spots pretty good.”

Wilson allowed two hits over eight innings and David Freese provided all the offense with a two-run homer in the Los Angeles Angels’ 2-0 win over the Mariners on Tuesday.

Wilson (1-0) was outstanding, wriggling out of a second-inning jam and retiring the final 17 batters he faced. The left-hander allowed three baserunners and needed only two strikeouts to shut down Seattle.

Nelson Cruz and Rickie Weeks each got his first hit with the Mariners, but that was the entirety of Seattle’s offense against Wilson.

Seattle’s lineup of righties included Weeks and Justin Ruggiano. Last year, Seattle struggled to field a lineup that was not always lefty heavy, and adding right-handed bats in the offseason was a priority.

Ultimately, who was at the plate didn’t matter much with the groove Wilson found. He filled up the strike zone and kept the ball down.

Wilson threw 96 pitches, 63 for strikes. He returned to congratulations in the dugout after striking out Brad Miller to end the eighth inning.

“He has four pitches, but if he can spot all of them it’s more like eight pitches - inside, outside with whatever,” Seattle’s Logan Morrison said. “He was doing a good job with that tonight.”

Huston Street pitched the ninth for his first save.

The performance by Wilson overshadowed a solid debut by Seattle lefty James Paxton, whose one costly mistake was Freese’s homer on a chilly night when fly balls were not carrying well.

Albert Pujols doubled with one out in the fourth inning, the first hit off Paxton (0-1), and Freese followed with a shot to right-center that barely cleared the fence.

It was Freese’s second career homer off Paxton, and it was all Wilson needed.

“I left that fastball up and away to him and that’s where he hits the ball hard,” Paxton said. “I was trying to go down and away and left the ball up.”

Paxton went six innings and struck out five, but got no run support. He retired 10 of his first 11 batters before Pujols’ double, and three of the four hits he allowed came in the fourth inning.

The lack of offense left a fan catching a foul ball with his bucket of popcorn in the second inning as the biggest highlight for Seattle fans.

The Mariners had a chance in the second with runners at first and second and one out, but Wilson got Morrison to hit into a fielder’s choice and Mike Zunino to fly out to end the threat.

“That was great to see. We haven’t seen that kind of stuff since probably midseason last year,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think it points to the fact that he’s healthy. You can’t really command the ball better than C.J. did.”

OLSON’S DEBUT

Seattle reliever Tyler Olson made his major league debut in the ninth and it lasted all of one pitch. Olson got Erick Aybar to hit into a double play to end the inning.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: Matt Joyce sat in favor of Collin Cowgill in left field, but Scioscia said that wouldn’t always be the case when a left-hander is on the mound. Scioscia said individual matchups would determine whether the left-handed-hitting Joyce plays against lefties.

Mariners: McClendon went with Cruz in right field and Weeks at designated hitter, delaying Weeks’ debut in the outfield for a couple of days. McClendon said he wouldn’t hesitate to put Weeks in the outfield, even though he got limited time there during spring training.

UP NEXT

Angels: Right-hander Matt Shoemaker begins his second full season with the Angels after finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2014. Shoemaker was 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 27 games last season.

Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma will make his 2015 debut. After pitching behind Felix Hernandez in Seattle’s rotation last season, Iwakuma was pushed to No. 3 in order to split up the right-handers.

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