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Despite Shohei Ohtani’s late home run, Angels lineup quieted in 7-4 loss to Mariners

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Shohei Ohtani hit his 34th home run, but the Angels lost to the Mariners on Sunday. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Angels dropped their series to the Seattle Mariners after suffering a loss in Sunday’s rubber match

Angels lineup quieted in rubber-match defeat to Mariners

The Angels managed just four runs in a rubber-match defeat to the Mariners Sunday. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

For the second time in a week, the Angels dropped a series to the Seattle Mariners, falling 7-4 in a rubber match on Sunday at Angel Stadium.

Here are three observations from the game.

Sandoval’s start

For the first time this season, Patrick Sandoval couldn’t consistently side-step trouble Sunday, giving up a season-high six runs (four earned) in a seven-inning start.

The Mariners scored twice in the first inning, unearned tallies that crossed on a defensive miscue between Sandoval and first baseman Jared Walsh. On a grounder to Walsh, Sandoval was slow covering first, then Walsh slipped and threw wide of Sandoval as he ran toward the bag.

“I was late getting over to start with,” Sandoval said of the play. “Then, we talked about it, [Walsh] said he saw we were even so he was like, ‘I need to lead him.’ He just led me a little too far.”

In the fourth, Luis Torrens hit a solo home run off Sandoval on a fastball near the top of the zone. And after yielding two softly hit singles in the fifth, Sandoval was taken deep again by Ty France for a three-run blast.

“I didn’t make a couple of good pitches and I paid for it,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval did respond, retiring his final seven batters to complete seven innings for the second straight start — something he hadn’t done previously this season.

By then, however, it was too late.

Mariners starter Logan Gilbert shut down the Angels (46-46) at the plate, giving up just two runs in 5 ⅓ innings. And a two-run homer in the ninth from Shohei Ohtani — his MLB-leading 34th of the season — was the only damage the team did against the Mariners bullpen.

“We have to pitch better than good pitching to win,” said Angels manager Joe Maddon. “That’s what you saw tonight. That’s what you’ve seen in this series ... They pitched really well. And that so far has been the difference between the two teams.”

Ohtani hits 34th homer

Prior to his ninth-inning home run, Ohtani had started the second half of the season — following his appearance in the home run derby — just 2-for-12 at the plate.

But then Ohtani finished Sunday by crushing the two-run blast to center, going after a full-count slider below the zone and hitting it a projected 419 feet.

“He might have been off mechanically a little bit, more in a pull mode than normal,” Maddon said when asked if Ohtani’s derby appearance had been having any effect on his swing. “That’s why I liked that home run to dead center at the end of the game. That’s what he’s been doing.”

Ohtani will now make his first pitching appearance in Monday’s series opener in Oakland, and could play both ways for the 11th time this season.

Maddon said Sunday afternoon that it would be Ohtani’s call.

Fletcher’s hitting streak ends

David Fletcher’s hitting streak ended at 26 games after he went 0-for-5 on Sunday, his first hitless contest since June 12.

After entering Sunday with at least three hits in four of his last five games, Fletcher struck out three times and failed to get a ball out of the infield.

Still, his .313 batting average remains top-10 among qualified big-league hitters, and Maddon joked postgame that, now that this hitting streak ended two games shy of a club record, “he’ll do another one, and then we’ll add them up and they’ll equal [the 56-game MLB record held by Joe] DiMaggio at some point.”

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Brandon Marsh to make MLB debut for Angels on Sunday

One of the Angels top prospects, outfielder Brandon Marsh, will make his MLB debut on Sunday in the Angels’ series finale against the Seattle Mariners.

Marsh, 23, will play center field and bat seventh.

“It’s what every kid dreams of that loves the game of baseball,” Marsh said. “I’m super blessed to be in the position I’m in today. I’m just trying to make the most of it today. Definitely a moment I’ve thought of for a very long time.”

A second-round pick out of high school in 2016, Marsh is the top-ranked player in the club’s farm system according to MLB Pipeline (fellow outfield prospect Jo Adell has already “graduated” from those rankings) and joins the Angels after batting .255 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 24 games with Triple-A Salt Lake this year.

After battling a shoulder injury throughout the spring and early part of the season, Marsh returned to full health earlier this month and was hitting over .400 over his last eight games with Salt Lake before Sunday’s call up.

In 295 career minor-league games, Marsh was a .288 hitter with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .811, in addition to being a plus-defender in the outfield.

“He can do both sides of the ball well,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He can play out there. He can hit. He runs really well. He’s got some pop. And he’s really a bright kid. It’ll be interesting.”

Asked Sunday if Marsh could stick in the big leagues for the rest of the season, Maddon left open the possibility.

“I want him to expect to stay here the whole year,” Maddon said. “I just spoke with him. I ask them all when they come up, ‘Please, just go play. Don’t overthink it.’”

In a corresponding move, the Angels optioned Kean Wong to Triple-A Salt Lake.

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David Fletcher’s five RBIs power Angels past Mariners

The Angels' David Fletcher doubles during the second inning July 17, 2021.
The Angels’ David Fletcher doubles during the second inning Saturday night. He was three for five with five RBIs and extended his hitting streak to 26 games.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

David Fletcher is not the superstitious type.

When a few reporters brought up his hitting streak before a July 7 game, the Angels second baseman spoke openly about New York Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hit streak in 1941, jinx be damned.

“I did the math,” said Fletcher, who was only 20 games into his streak at the time, “and I’d reach 55 games in Yankee Stadium.”

Fletcher, who extended his hitting streak to 26 games on his first swing Saturday night in the Angels’ 9-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners in Angel Stadium, is correct.

If he starts every game for the next month, including a makeup doubleheader against Toronto on Aug. 10, there are no rainouts and he gets a hit in every game, his streak would reach 55 on Aug. 16, when the Angels play a makeup game against the Yankees in the Bronx.

Against DiMaggio’s team.

“How crazy would that be?” Fletcher said with a grin, relishing the thought.

This is exactly the kind of moxie it will take for any player to challenge what many consider an unbreakable record. While Fletcher probably won’t measure up to the great DiMaggio, he seems impervious to the pressure of maintaining such a streak.

The Angels need improved health and defense, and a lot of wins, to make a playoff push in the second half of the season.

“He’s uber confident in a really tasty way; it’s not offensive,” manager Joe Maddon said. “There’s Joe Namath, and then there’s David Fletcher. On that baseball field, there’s not a thing that makes him nervous, and there’s not a thing that he doesn’t think he can do.”

Fletcher wasted no time in extending his streak before a crowd of 28,929 on Saturday night, smacking Mariners left-hander Yusei Kikuchi’s first pitch down the left-field line for a double, moving him to within two of Garret Anderson’s franchise-record hit streak of 28 games, set in 1998.

Fletcher followed singles by Taylor Ward and Juan Lagares and a walk to Jack Mayfield with a two-out double to left-center field for a 3-0 lead in the second.

Highlights from the Angels’ 9-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.

Back-to-back, two-out doubles by Jose Iglesias and Ward pushed the lead to 4-0 in the third, and Mayfield’s solo homer to left-center made it 5-0 in the fourth.

The three hits gave Fletcher his seventh multihit game in eight games, a stretch in which he has hit .595 (22 for 37).

Fletcher is batting .454 (49 for 108) with two homers, 13 doubles, 21 RBIs, 21 runs, eight strikeouts and three walks during his 26-game hit streak, raising his average from .255 on June 12 to .318.

“There’s nobody I’ve played with that’s more confident than he is, and he backs it up,” said pitcher Alex Cobb, who gave up one run and five hits in 6-2/3 innings, striking out six and walking four to improve to 7-3 with a 3.96 earned-run average. “He’s got this energy about him that he’s just gonna get the job done. It’s not always pretty, but he finds a way.

“And man, you can’t play defense on him. You bring the outfield in and he hits it over their heads. You put them back and he drops it in front, and if you shift the infield, he shoots it the other way. There’s just nothing you can do, and he hits everything. There’s not a ball in or out of the strike zone he can’t hit.”

Angels pitcher Alex Cobb throws during the first inning July 17, 2021.
Angels right-hander Alex Cobb gave up one run in 6-2/3 innings and picked up the win, improving to 7-3.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Fletcher, who signed a five-year, $26-million contract extension on opening day, began the season in the leadoff spot. He was batting .256 when he was moved to the ninth spot on May 15, a demotion that may have triggered a subtle change in mindset that helped Fletcher snap out of his funk.

“The start he got off to, he was getting into a lot of two-strike counts,” Maddon said. “He was always playing defense on offense. He was just trying to get on base for [Mike] Trout and the other guys. He was being unselfish. I wanted him to be more selfish and more aggressive early in the count.”

Fletcher was moved back to the leadoff spot on June 27, 11 games into his streak.

Here’s a look at 10 starting pitchers that the Dodgers and Angels could target in trades this month.

“It’s pretty fun to watch,” Maddon said. “I’ve seen hot streaks, but not here, not in the big leagues like that. This has been going on for a while. It started in the nine hole, he continued it in the one hole, and he’s hitting the ball hard. The balls are coming out hot.”

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Outfielder Adam Eaton excited for a ‘fresh start’ with Angels

Adam Eaton is pictured with the White Sox in Detroit on July 4, 2021.
Adam Eaton is pictured with the White Sox in Detroit on July 4. The Angels signed him this week.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

New Angels right fielder Adam Eaton absorbed a gut-punch — but not a sucker-punch — when he was released by the Chicago White Sox last week, the first time in his 10-year career the speedy outfielder had been dumped by a team during the season.

“I don’t think anybody would say it’s not [a blow to the ego],” said Eaton, who signed with the Angels on Wednesday. “You sign with a team, you didn’t really expect this, but you can’t blame them. I didn’t play very well, and it’s a business. I’m excited for a fresh start here.”

The left-handed-hitting Eaton, a key member of the Washington Nationals club that won the World Series in 2019, compiled a .278 batting average, .768 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 65 homers, 165 doubles, 46 triples and 317 RBIs in 10 big league seasons with the Arizona, Washington and the White Sox.

But after signing a one-year, $8-million deal with the White Sox in December, Eaton hit only .201 with a .642 OPS, five homers, 28 RBIs and 33 runs in 58 games, though he did hit .341 (15 for 44) with 21 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

Eaton had two hits in his Angels debut Friday night but was not in the lineup against Seattle left-hander Yusei Kikuchi on Saturday night.

“You want to try to help the team right away,” Eaton said. “Ever since I had a couple of injuries on my left side, some things have been lacking. [The Angels] brought some things to my attention that I hadn’t heard before. I have 2½ months to hopefully make an impact here.”

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Joe Maddon wasn’t sad when Shohei Ohtani lost early in home run derby

The Angels' Shohei Ohtani rests after hitting during the first round of the home run derby July 12, 2021.
The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani rests after hitting during the first round of the home run derby Monday night in Denver.
(Gabriel Christus / Associated Press)

Angels manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was relieved when two-way star Shohei Ohtani was eliminated in the first round of the home run derby at Denver’s Coors Field on Monday night.

Ohtani looked gassed after smashing 22 homers, 18 in the first four-minute round and four in a one-minute tie-breaking round, bending over at the waist, resting his hands on his knees and taking deep breaths during his duel with Washington Nationals slugger Juan Soto.

Had Ohtani, after a long day of media interviews and marking and sponsorship obligations, advanced to the semifinal and final rounds, he would have taken another 100 or more high-intensity swings, with each round lasting three to four minutes, exposing himself to more fatigue and possible injury.

Here’s a look at 10 starting pitchers that the Dodgers and Angels could target in trades this month.

Ohtani was also the starting pitcher and designated hitter for the American League in the All-Star game Tuesday night.

“Oh yeah, there was relief,” Maddon said. “I’m good with him playing in the home run derby, but then when you watch it, and under the circumstances he was in there, he was the All Star of All-Stars, the demands on his time … there’s a lot going on there that people don’t understand.

“On top of all the demands off the field, you have the demands on the field, in the home run derby, going extra innings with Soto, swing after swing after swing, it’s not easy. All I could think about was he’s not just going to play [in the All-Star game Tuesday], he’s gonna play and pitch.”

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While Angels scramble to plug outfield holes, Jo Adell remains at triple A

The Angels' Jo Adell bats against the Colorado Rockies during a spring training game March 6, 2021, in Tempe, Ariz.
Jo Adell bats for the Angels during a spring training game March 6 in Tempe, Ariz.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

Adam Eaton, a Chicago White Sox castoff who signed with the Angels on Wednesday, is the seventh player to start in right field this season, leaving Angels fans to wonder, yet again: What does top outfield prospect Jo Adell have to do to return to the big leagues?

Adell, the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft, struggled so badly in his first major league stint in 2020, batting .161 with three homers, seven RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 38 games, that the Angels decided over the winter that he would start this season in triple A. Few could argue with that move.

Adell hit .270 with 10 homers and 19 RBIs in his first 17 games for triple-A Salt Lake but was not called up after right fielder Dexter Fowler suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first week of the season and star center fielder Mike Trout suffered a right-calf strain that has sidelined him since May 17.

Adell, 22, has cooled since his torrid start but is still having a strong season at the plate. He entered Saturday with a .282 batting average, .905 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 18 homers, 13 doubles, four triples and 53 RBIs in 60 games.

The Angels need improved health and defense, and a lot of wins, to make a playoff push in the second half of the season.

But when left fielder Justin Upton went down because of a lower-back strain June 23, the Angels stuck with converted catcher/third baseman Taylor Ward as the primary right fielder and infielders such as Luis Rengifo and Jose Rojas filled in while Adell remained at triple-A.

The signing of Eaton, a 10-year veteran who was a key member of the Washington Nationals’ World Series-winning club in 2019, suggests that a promotion for Adell is not imminent.

“He’s doing really well — he has gotten better in so many different areas,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Adell before Saturday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium. “We just want him to play the complete game, get more experience in the outfield, make better decisions, run better routes.

“Make better decisions on the bases to take advantage of his speed. That’s the thing, everyone wants guys here quickly and everyone’s on a different clock. Some guys get to that point sooner, some later. It’s just hard to say when someone’s going to be ready to be here.”

Daron Sutton said his removal was “100% without incident” and unrelated to any disciplinary action. He called the majority of the Angels’ games this season.

Asked whether there is something holding Adell back or if he just needs more seasoning, Maddon said there are still some concerns about his strikeouts. Adell whiffed 82 times and walked 17 times in his first 60 games.

And Adell, who made several defensive gaffes in his first few weeks with the Angels last summer, can benefit from more minor league time in the outfield.

“As a developmental guy, boxes need to be checked,” Maddon said. “You have to be comfortable that a guy can do a variety of different things before you bring him here. He’s a young man. He’s gonna have a nice career. We brought him up last year, he struggled and was sent back this year. To me, there’s no rush.”

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Angels vs. Mariners: Saturday analysis, betting odds

The Angels are 4-7 this season against the Seattle Mariners after their series-opening loss at home Friday and will look to turn that around Saturday.

The Angels give Alex Cobb the start, who has yielded just three home runs in 66 innings with the team going 9-4 in his 13 starts this season, including 5-1 at home. Opponents are batting .188 at home against him, and the Mariners are last in the major leagues in batting average.

Angels vs. Mariners Saturday betting odds
(VSiN)

The Mariners send Yusei Kikuchi to the mound, who in six career starts against the Angels has yielded at least three runs in every one of them with a 10.58 ERA, .397 opponents’ batting average and 10 home runs given up across 24-2/3 innings with the Mariners going 1-5 in those starts.

Of Kikuchi’s last 29 road starts, 19 have gone over the total, and five of his six career starts against the Angels have gone over. The Angels have scored at least four runs in 25 of their last 32 games.

The Angels are 16-7 in their last 23 home games with just two of their last six home games going over the total, but they still lead the majors in games that went over the total at home with 30 of their 47 home games having done so.

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Angels’ ninth-inning rally falls short after pitchers struggle in 6-5 loss to Mariners

The Angels' Shohei Ohtani gestures to David Fletcher as Fletcher advances to second on a wild pitch during the eighth inning.
The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani gestures to David Fletcher as Fletcher advances to second base on a wild pitch during the eighth inning.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Angels entered the All-Star break hoping to emerge as legitimate playoff contenders over the second half of the season.

Friday night was a reminder that they need better pitching to get there.

Despite a dramatic three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Angels came up just short in a 6-5 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

“Of course you want to win, but I loved every second of our effort tonight,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said, adding: “Everything was there tonight.”

Everything, except dependable pitching.

While the Angels bats came to life late, poor performances on the mound from Andrew Heaney and Dylan Bundy had left them in too deep of a hole.

Heaney struggled in a four-inning, four-run start. Bundy gave up a two-run homer to Mitch Haniger in the seventh. And by the beginning of the eighth, the Angels trailed 6-1.

“We didn’t pitch as well as we can,” Maddon said. “Andrew had a tough night. And the home run by Haniger was a big play. I knew that in the moment.”

Still, the Angels (45-45) almost came back anyway.

The Angels need improved health and defense, and a lot of wins, to make a playoff push in the second half of the season.

After Mariners starter Chris Flexen left the mound following a dominant seven-inning, one-run outing, the Angels began to chip away. Jared Walsh hit an RBI single in the eighth, then a throwing error in the ninth by Mariners second baseman Dylan Moore on a potential game-ending double play gave the Angels late life.

With two outs, David Fletcher hit a chopper that deflected off Kyle Seager’s outstretched glove at third for an RBI single. Shohei Ohtani came to the plate as the tying run and lined a two-run single into center at the end of a seven-pitch at-bat.

Walsh kept the rally alive with a single of his own, putting runners on the corners. But Phil Gosselin couldn’t complete the comeback, flying out to end the game.

“Your team plays like that every night,” Maddon said, “you’re going to win a lot of games.”

Highlights from the Angels’ 6-5 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.

Fletcher’s performance extended his hitting streak to 25 games. Max Stassi had the Angels’ lone home run, an opposite-field solo shot in the second inning that briefly tied the score at 1-1.

In the top of the third, however, the Mariners (49-43) struck for three runs against Heaney. With one out, Haniger doubled. Ty France rolled a single into right in the next at-bat. Then Seager blasted a two-run homer.

“I just didn’t think he had his best stuff,” Maddon said of Heaney, later adding: “From the beginning, he just didn’t have that normal jump or carry on the ball, and they were on him.”

Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney gave up four runs in four innings.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Heaney now has a 5.56 ERA this season and has given up 19 earned runs in his last 18⅓ innings.

“I’m not having the year that I’d like to be having,” Heaney said. “I just gotta think of it as a new season for me in the second half of the year and try and give our team a chance to win.

“That’s the most frustrating thing. I feel like if I just have a halfway decent start there, that rally that we have in the ninth that comes up a little bit short doesn’t come up short.”

Here’s a look at 10 starting pitchers that the Dodgers and Angels could target in trades this month.

Haniger’s homer off Bundy in the seventh inning didn’t help either, giving the Mariners just enough cushion to hang on the rest of the night.

It was only the sixth time in 43 games this season the Angels lost when scoring at least five runs.

“We have that potential [to pitch better],” Maddon said, “but you have to go out there and you have to prove it time and time again. That’s how you win.”

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Shohei Ohtani donates home run derby winnings to Angels employees

The Angels' Shohei Ohtani flies out during the first inning July 16, 2021.
The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani flies out during the first inning Friday night against Seattle.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani donated his $150,000 of winnings from this week’s home run derby to Angels clubhouse staff members and team employees, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Ohtani’s donation, which was first reported by the Orange County Register, came as the two-way star returned to the team following his trip to the All-Star game this week.

Ohtani became the first pitcher to ever compete in the home run derby Monday, losing in a first-round swing-off against Washington Nationals slugger Juan Soto.

For his participation, Ohtani was awarded $150,000 (winner Pete Alonso of the New York Mets took home $1 million) that, before Friday’s game, he distributed to a couple dozen team employees, including trainers, clubhouse staff and members of the club’s media-relations department.

Ohtani, who signed a two-year, $8.5-million contract this offseason to avoid arbitration, entered the second half of the season with an MLB-leading 33 home runs and .279 batting average as a hitter and a 3.49 ERA with 87 strikeouts as a pitcher.

On Friday, he was honored during a pregame ceremony with the American League player of the month award for his performance in June.

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After a whirlwind week, new Angels broadcaster Rich Waltz excited for Friday debut

An overall view of Angel's Stadium of Anaheim during the third inning of a baseball game.
(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

Even before getting the call Monday morning asking whether he wanted to broadcast Angels games for Bally Sports West, Rich Waltz had been following the club closer than usual this year.

Like everyone else in baseball, he was enthralled by Shohei Ohtani’s historic two-way season. But, after having auditioned for the Angels’ open play-by-play position in the offseason, Waltz had grown fond of some of the team’s story lines too.

David Fletcher’s ascent to an everyday role jumped out at him. He found Jared Walsh’s transformation from two-way college player to All-Star first baseman fascinating too.

“Naturally what happens is, the season starts and you start paying attention to the team you studied up on,” Waltz said. “Those names are familiar, and you want to see how they’re doing.”

Starting Friday, Waltz will get to watch it from up close, after the club hired him to replace Daron Sutton as their secondary play-by-play voice.

Daron Sutton said his removal was “100% without incident” and unrelated to any disciplinary action. He called the majority of the Angels’ games this season.

“Prepping for a team is natural,” Waltz, 58, said Friday afternoon. “But this is different. You’re prepping to be the voice of a team.”

The former play-by-play voice of the Miami Marlins from 2005 to 2017, Waltz is no stranger to the role. But it will be his first time working on an MLB team package since then, after spending the last several years doing national calls for MLB Network and TBS as well as college football and basketball telecasts for CBS Sports.

“I’m not trying to fool anybody that I’m the authority on everything Angels tonight, and in this first series,” Waltz said. “I know enough about them to have a good time with [color analyst Mark Gubicza] … I’m prepped. But it will be a little bit of a learn as you go. It should be a fun way to learn.”

Like Sutton, who was informed last Saturday that he would no longer be part of the Angels broadcasts, Waltz will split calls with Matt Vasgersian, the Angels’ lead play-by-play voice who hasn’t been able to call games on a full-time basis this season because of his other responsibilities with MLB Network and on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcasts.

Barely five days after getting the offer, Waltz said preparing for this first weekend’s worth of broadcasts was a whirlwind but also a welcome return to the routine of calling games for one specific team.

“This is an opportunity, but I’m really not thinking past tonight or Saturday,” Waltz said. “When I got off the phone Monday, I was excited for about a minute. Then it was like, ‘Let’s double-check who’s in their rotation. Let’s find out what guys out of the bullpen throw.’ All that stuff. I’m excited for tonight, but I’m also focused on just calling the game.”

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Anthony Rendon likely to miss another couple of weeks with hamstring injury

Los Angeles Angels' Anthony Rendon fields a ground out hit by Oakland Athletics' Mark Canha.
Anthony Rendon will miss another couple of weeks with a hamstring injury.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon will likely miss another couple of weeks with a left hamstring strain that has kept him out since July 5.

Entering the All-Star break, the team had been hopeful that Rendon would be able to return for Friday night’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners.

However, Rendon said his recovery “isn’t going as great as we wanted, so we’re gonna take a little more time to kind of figure it out.”

This is Rendon’s third stint on the injured list this year. In April, he missed 11 games with a left groin strain. In May, he missed nine because of a left knee contusion. Friday’s game will be the seventh he has missed with the hamstring strain, which he initially sustained while charging for a ground ball July 4.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said Friday that, “if everything progressed properly, right around the beginning of August sounds like a solid maybe” for Rendon’s return.

Both Maddon and Rendon said the 31-year-old, who is in the second season of a seven-year, $245-million contract, didn’t do anything to make his injury worse but that it simply hasn’t gotten better as fast as they initially expected.

“We might think it’s bio-mechanical, to where it’s just my anatomy,” Rendon said. “Trying to figure out how we can prevent these kinds of injuries from happening in the future.”

He added: “It’s definitely frustrating, to say the least, but I’ve learned a lot this year, not just physically but mentally and how to handle these things even better.”

Even when he has been healthy this year, Rendon has struggled. In 58 games, he has hit just .240 with a .712 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, six home runs and 34 RBIs.

Rendon attributed some of those struggles to his injuries, which have all occurred to his left leg.

I just had no backside,” he said. “I’ll have great moments, you can probably see on video. But not being able to fire, not being able to be connected, and battling injuries on top of that doesn’t help at all trying to compensate for my left leg, my right leg, and vice versa, just trying to find that comfortability.

“Not being able to stay in the weight room because of three non-impact injuries in the first half, and not being able to stay strong. Legs are the big reason why we hit, so you kind of need them.”

In other injury news Friday: Maddon said Mike Trout (right calf strain) is “getting close to 100%" and will likely be back before Rendon, though it remains undetermined when he will be able to go out on a rehabilitation assignment. Trout still needs to run the bases and perform other baseball activities at full intensity before then. ... Justin Upton (right lower back strain) is progressing, but his return also remains unclear. Maddon said the team hasn’t decided yet whether Upton will need to go on a rehab assignment.

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Five observations about the Angels as they start the second half of the season

The Angels would love to see a lot more of this, Shohei Ohtani being greeted by Mike Trout after hitting a home run.
The Angels would love to see a lot more of this, Shohei Ohtani being greeted by an in-uniform Mike Trout after hitting a home run.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

The best way to describe the Angels’ first half of the season: survival.

They dealt with key injuries to several stars and inconsistencies from their role players. They managed repeated shuffling to their roster and struggles on the mound. They overcame a poor start in the two months to reach the All-Star break over .500.

Manager Joe Maddon’s evaluation: “We got better. [That] is probably the best way to look at it.”

But another 2 1/2 months to go, and plenty of questions left to be answered, the Angels aren’t out of survival mode yet.

As they begin the second half of the season, here’s a look at where they’re at and what they need to do to make a legitimate playoff push down the stretch.

READ MORE >>

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The Dodgers and Angels need pitchers. Here are 10 possible trade options for them

Minnesota Twins’ pitcher Jose Berrios throws against the Detroit Tigers on July 11 in Minneapolis.
(Stacy Bengs / Associated Press)

The Dodgers, who lost Dustin May to season-ending elbow surgery, Clayton Kershaw to left forearm tightness and Trevor Bauer to a Major League Baseball-imposed administrative leave in the wake of a sexual assault investigation into the right-hander, are in dire need of starting pitching.

So are the Angels, who could have a prolific offense when Mike Trout returns from a right calf strain but have a weak rotation that ranks 25th in the major leagues with a 5.06 ERA, 28th with 426 2/3 innings pitched, an average of about 4 2/3 innings a start, and 25th with a 1.38 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning).

With nine teams clearly out of playoff contention coming out of the All-Star break, there should be no shortage of “sellers” before the July 30 trade deadline.

But with five American League teams within 5 1/2 games of the second wild-card spot and two National League teams within 6 1/2 games of the second wild-card spot, there should be no shortage of “buyers,” which could make the competition for highly sought-after players fierce.

With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 starting pitchers, with varying degrees of availability, that the Dodgers and Angels could target in trades this month:

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Shohei Ohtani solidifies role as baseball’s biggest attraction in All-Star debut

American League’s Shohei Ohtani looks to his fielders before throwing his first pitch during the MLB All-Star game.
American League’s Shohei Ohtani looks to his fielders before throwing his first pitch during the first inning of the MLB All-Star game on Tuesday in Denver.
(Gabriel Christus / Associated Press)

DENVER — They cheered their own, hometown ovations for Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black and shortstop Trevor Story, and a raucous welcome back to former Rockies star Nolan Arenado.

They booed players from the Yankees and Dodgers, jeering even Chris Taylor for his place on an evil big-market team.

For almost every other player introduced at the start of Tuesday’s MLB All-Star game, however, the crowd reception was routine.

For only one other player did the 49,184 inside Coors Field make an exception, roaring to life at the announcement of one more specific name.

“Leading off,” Fox broadcaster Joe Buck announced over the stadium public-address system, “the designated hitter, and starting pitcher: Shohei Ohtani!”

Suddenly, as the Angels’ two-way star flashed across the video board, warming up in the bullpen in preparation for his first All-Star game appearance, a jam-packed ballpark went nuts.

If ever there was a doubt about Ohtani’s place, popularity and impact within the sport, this week’s festivities had delivered one more moment putting them to rest.

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