Shohei Ohtani and Garrett Richards are coming back, which is a great point of focus at the moment for the Angels and their fans.
The immediate future for this team has to be brighter than the immediate past, the Angels failing in their attempt Sunday to sweep Baltimore by the warped score of 8-2.
Because injuries have ravaged their rotation, they started Deck McGuire, a player they picked up from Texas last month after the Rangers decided to let him go.
The Rangers are, for the record, behind the Angels in the standings this season.
McGuire was very good for three innings before everything turned in a six-run fourth after the Angels lost a routine popup in the sun.
“They’re here because we have confidence in them to make pitches and get outs,” manager Mike Scioscia said of the pitchers filling in the vacated roster spots. “For short stretches, Deck did this afternoon. We just couldn’t suppress that rally.”
Baltimore eventually hit four homers — two apiece off McGuire and reliever Eduardo Paredes — to run away and hide, dropping the Angels to 2-5 on a trip that began with four consecutive losses.
They pounded the Orioles 7-1 on Friday and then used a five-run rally to win again Saturday.
Four batters into the game Sunday, the Angels were up 1-0 when Albert Pujols drove in Kole Calhoun, who had doubled. After that, the highlights were muted for seven innings before Calhoun homered in the eighth.
It was his third homer since coming off the disabled list June 18. In 41 at-bats, Calhoun has 11 hits, including five for extra bases. Before going on the DL, he had three extra-base hits in 173 at-bats.
“He’s still moving forward,” Scioscia said. “There’s still upside. But there’s no doubt he’s more comfortable now than he was anytime before his injury. Hopefully, he’ll continue to keep growing with this. We need him.”
The Angels now have an off day before opening a three-game series Tuesday in Seattle, a team they began Sunday trailing by 10 games for the American League’s second wild-card spot.
“We just gotta try to win every series, whether it’s now or later,” left fielder Justin Upton said. “We gotta win series.”
The expectations remain that Ohtani and Richards will come off the disabled list and rejoin the Angels against the Mariners.
On Sunday in Anaheim, Ohtani (elbow ligament) participated in live batting practice for the second consecutive day.
He’s coming back as a designated hitter as the Angels continue to monitor his condition as it relates to his ability to pitch.
Richards (hamstring) made a rehabilitation start Friday and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session next, indicating the Angels are lining him up to start Wednesday.
Though Scioscia is careful to never publicly put too much emphasis on any particular opponent, it is notable that the Angels have aligned their three best pitchers to start against the Mariners.
After Andrew Heaney on Tuesday and Richards on Wednesday, Tyler Skaggs is scheduled for Thursday. Rookie Jaime Barria’s next start has been pushed back to Friday.
The Angels and Mariners play six times in the next 11 days and nine times before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The results of those games could largely determine the direction of the remainder of their season.
“We’ve got, what, 70 or 80 something, I don’t know where we are in the season, that many games left and we gotta try to win as many as we can,” Upton said. “Other teams control their destiny. We control ours. We just gotta play better.”
Starting Tuesday at Safeco Field, that reality becomes as real as it has been all season.