Angels can’t support Patrick Sandoval’s 10-strikeout performance in loss to Mariners
The Angels went into Sunday’s game against the Seattle Mariners with a modest two-game winning streak and chance to win their ninth game in 13 tries, but after scoring 12 runs Saturday night, they could manage just two through eight innings and eventually lost 9-5 at Angel Stadium.
On a near-perfect 72-degree, sun-splashed day, the Mariners opened the game with a run in the first inning on a walk, a wild pitch, an infield single and a sharply hit sacrifice fly by Kyle Seager that scored J.P. Crawford. It took 26 pitches from Angels starter Patrick Sandoval to retire the side, but he did strike out two of his career-high 10.
The Angels responded immediately when Justin Upton hit his third career leadoff home run and 13th homer of the season, a line drive into the Angels bullpen off Seattle starter Logan Gilbert. It was Upton’s fifth home run in his last six games in Anaheim.
The Mariners took a 3-1 lead in the third on four hits that included Donavon Walton’s second home run of the season and a double by Crawford that skipped off the top of the glove of right fielder Taylor Ward.
Gilbert’s day ended after five innings when he was replaced by reliever J.T. Chargois. Gilbert, a lanky right-hander, held the Angels to one run and two hits, walked four and struck out seven to record his first win of the season against two losses.
An inning later, Sandoval’s outing was over. He gave up three runs, five hits and one walk.
“I felt good, " Sandoval said. “Most of my stuff was working for the majority of the game.”
Added Angels manager Joe Maddon: “They have a lot of left-handed hitters and their team has a tendency to strike out. His fastball command and changeup was good.”
With two out in the seventh, though, Angels reliever Alex Claudio allowed back-to-back doubles to Walton and Crawford that made the score 4-1. He was replaced by Mike Mayers who struck out outfielder Mitch Haniger.
The Angels Rally Monkey got the crowd of 12,833 boisterous in the eighth inning and the fans got louder when Rendon singled off reliever Rafael Montero. That was followed by Jared Walsh’s double to right which scored Rendon to make it 4-2. After Walsh had taken third on an infield out, Montero walked Ward.
But pinch-hitter Kean Wong, batting for catcher Kurt Suzuki, grounded to second for the third out.
Hunter Strickland allowed a single by Mariners pinch-hitter Jake Fraley then walked Trammel to open the ninth. He was replaced by Steve Cishek, The next batter, Jack Mayfield, bunted safely to load the bases. Cishek walked Walton to force in the Mariners’ fifth run, and then gave up another run on Crawford’s sacrifice fly to center.
The Mariners added three more runs on two infield ground balls and a bases-loaded walk for a 9-2 lead.
The Angel offense perked up in their last at-bat. Fletcher singled and Upton followed with a double, scoring Fletcher. Shohei Ohtani walked and Rendon doubled to left. Ohtani scored on an infield out but the Angels’ rally stalled. They left nine runners on base and were zero for eight with runners in scoring position.
Angels storm back with 11 straight runs in come-from-behind win over Mariners
On the front, the words “Play like it’s 1985” are superimposed within the Angels’ California-shaped logo. On the back, “the relentless execution of fundamentals” is printed in big block letters.
For a second-year manager trying to reshape the culture of what has been a losing club in recent years, they are the two phrases that best exemplify his straightforward, throwback philosophy.
And in two straight days, the Angels have delivered a pair of come-from-behind, momentum-building wins that embodied his ethos.
At one point, the Angels trailed by four runs. Then, they scored 11 straight over the next five innings.
Starting pitcher Alex Cobb was tagged with five runs — including a grand slam — in the top of the fourth, then responded by retiring 11 straight batters to complete a seven-inning outing.
Highlights from the Angels’ 12-5 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
Down the stretch, the offense then tacked on half-a-dozen insurance tallies. The bullpen closed it out with two scoreless innings. And the Angels continued to build upon a much-needed turnaround, winners in eight of their last 12 games to improve to 27-31 on the season.
“There’s so many contagions in the world,” Maddon said. “Momentum is one of them. Winning is one of them. Our guys felt strongly we were gonna come back in the game. There was that kind of attitude in the dugout.”
The night began auspiciously. Shohei Ohtani hit a first-inning home run off Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi, a left-hander who went to the same Japanese high school as Ohtani. Cobb, meanwhile, was perfect through three innings.
The Mariners (29-31), however, exploded for five runs in the fourth. The inning began with a walk, a bloop single and a hit-by-pitch. The tying run scored on a chopper that bounced over the mound. Jake Fraley vaulted the Mariners in front with a grand slam to straightaway center.
Initially, MLB’s Statcast system recorded the pitch as a sinker. Cobb said he had actually tried to throw a split-finger changeup.
“That’s how bad it was,” Cobb said. “It had no depth.”
But then the right-hander settled down, allowing his lineup to mount a response. If the Angels had started to hit their stride in recent days, then they finished Saturday night in an all-out sprint.
“When that grand slam went out, the only thing that went into my mind is, ‘We’re not losing this ballgame,’” said Cobb, who had six strikeouts. “And, you know, fortunately, the offense just went off.”
Max Stassi started the rally with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. Then, a scary-looking play an inning later further altered the game.
Major League Baseball informed owners that it will enforce rules on using foreign substances on baseballs. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is fine with that.
After Taylor Ward hit a leadoff single in the fifth, David Fletcher crushed a one-hop comebacker off Kikuchi’s leg, sending the Mariners pitcher to the ground writhing in pain. Catcher José Godoy retrieved the ball but airmailed his throw to first, allowing Ward to score and Fletcher to advance to second.
Kikuchi was forced to exit the game with what was diagnosed as a right knee contusion. His replacement, JT Chargois yielded an RBI single to Anthony Rendon three at-bats later.
That made it a one-run deficit. Then, Ward put the Angels back in front in the sixth, driving a go-ahead two-run home run off the rock pile in center.
From there, the Angels pulled away. In the seventh, Justin Upton doubled and scored on a Rendon grounder. In the top of the eighth, reliever Tony Watson stranded the potential tying runners on the corners. And the next-half inning, the Angels batted around to bring five more runs across the plate.
“It’s growing,” Maddon said of his team’s confidence level. “That grand slam takes all the air out of the balloon — but I didn’t feel that way, I didn’t feel the guys felt that way. There was a strong sense that we can do this. And we did.”
Watch every home run Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has hit so far this season.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Upton was asked about the cohesion in the clubhouse and the budding belief his team has been building — especially after a one-run win on Friday in which the Angels trailed by two in the early innings.
“We speak a lot about accountability and being able to talk about the game, accept criticism, ways we can better,” Upton said. “Last night, just all being on the same page, we were able to pick each other up.”
On Saturday, it happened again.
“We got some momentum rolling,” Stassi said. “Every team goes through their highs and lows throughout the year. Our low is hopefully behind us. Definitely confident in this group. We all play so well together.”
Mike Trout might not return until after All-Star break
Injured Angels center fielder Mike Trout strolled around behind the batting practice net Saturday, chatting with coaches and teammates as he continues what will likely become the longest injury rehab of his MLB career.
The Angels still haven’t announced a specific timeline for Trout’s return from a Grade 2 calf strain that has kept him out since May 17. But manager Joe Maddon said it might not be until after next month’s All-Star break from July 12-15.
Trout was initially ruled out for six-to-eight weeks.
“The old conventional wisdom would indicate probably not,” Maddon said when asked if a pre-All Star break return was possible.
Maddon added it would be “wonderful” if Trout can come back before then, but acknowledged “if it doesn’t happen, then we just have to adjust to it. We just got to continue to play better, like I think we have. Win series and win weeks until Mikey gets back.”
After initially requiring crutches, Trout is now out of his walking boot. And while he hasn’t been able to return to baseball activities, Maddon said the three-time MVP has remained a vocal presence around the clubhouse.
“He’s engaged, he’s talking to everybody, picking everybody up,” Maddon said. “He’s upbeat, fun, everything you need him to be.”
Prior to getting hurt, Trout was batting .333 with a 1.090 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, eight home runs and 18 RBI in 36 games.
Justin Upton is excelling as the Angels leadoff hitter. Here’s why it might become his permanent role.
Before May 23, Justin Upton can’t remember a time he had ever hit leadoff at any point in his career.
“I don’t think I’ve ever hit leadoff,” he said. “Unless it was on a backfield [in spring training] trying to get seven at-bats.”
But the last two weeks, the Angels left fielder has done it almost everyday. And, coincidence or not, the results are impossible to ignore.
Through his first 38 games, Upton was batting just .188 with a .661 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. He had eight home runs, but had also struck out 45 times and walked only 14.
Usually, those numbers might warrant a drop in the batting order, where Upton had previously been slotted in usually as the fourth, fifth or sixth hitter.
But Angels manager Joe Maddon had another idea.
“A guy with his pedigree, I liked the idea of moving him up in the batting order,” Maddon said. “Give him a different mindset to work with. Hit it to the middle of the field, think about getting on base.”
In the 10 games since, Upton has hit leadoff nine times. During that stretch, he is 11 for 36 (.306 batting average) with four home runs, seven RBIs, a 1.062 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (including a .395 OBP) and only 12 strikeouts and six walks.
“Initially, it was just a change of scenery,” Upton said. “I’ve just kind of gotten used to it at this point, and the numbers have been better.”
Never before in his 15-year MLB career had Upton hit first in his team’s batting order. And while he couldn’t pinpoint exactly how much the switch has triggered his recent success, he said it has helped him refine his approach.
“Later in the game, I’m trying to let the scoreboard and the game dictate how the at-bat goes,” Upton said. “But to leadoff the game, with Shohei [Ohtani] and Anthony [Rendon] behind me, you gotta try to set the table. Wait on more pitches, better pitches to hit, getting on via walk or a pitch down the middle I can get on base on.”
The Angels’ leadoff spot opened last month after Maddon bumped a slumping David Fletcher to the nine-hole, a move Maddon originally said would be only temporarily while Fletcher worked on his swing.
But even as Fletcher has improved in recent weeks — the infielder is batting .264 with a .328 on-base-percentage since batting ninth — Upton has remained in the top spot.
Could Upton be the Angels’ leadoff hitter for the rest of the year?
“I have not ruled it out,” Maddon said. “I’m excited when he walks up to start games. There’s certain guys that can make an impact real fast.”
José Iglesias returns from IL, Jose Rojas optioned for first time this year
The Angels’ lineup will get a boost on Saturday night, as shortstop José Iglesias was reinstated from the injured list following a hamstring strain. Iglesias will bat fourth for the Angels when they play the third of their four-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium. It is the first time Iglesias has batted cleanup this year. He enters the game with a .283 batting average, .714 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and four home runs.
In a corresponding move, infielder Jose Rojas was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake for the first time this year. Rojas, a former 36th-round pick, made his MLB debut this year after earning a spot on the team’s opening day roster. However, despite leading the team with 12 doubles, he was only batting .190 with a .610 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 43 games.
“He’s not hit to the level we saw in spring training, or that he’s done in the past,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I believe he’s going to be very beneficial to us this year before the season’s over. In order to do that, we just wanted him to get back, get some regular at-bats, and the big thing for me is to get his strike zone back. Once he does that, I think he’ll take off again.”
Shohei Ohtani’s six strong innings, Raisel Iglesias’ dramatic six-out save lift Angels past Mariners
One of the largest Angels crowds of the season might have come to see Shohei Ohtani.
But it was Raisel Iglesias who made them come alive.
After Ohtani’s six-inning, two-run start, the Angels were protecting a one-run lead going into the eighth on Friday night. Then the Seattle Mariners loaded the bases, forcing manager Joe Maddon to summon his closer for a six-out save with the thinnest of margins.
Iglesias delivered, dramatically escaping the eighth-inning jam without surrendering a run before finishing off the Angels’ 3-2 victory with a perfect ninth.
After getting the final out in the eighth, painting a 97 mph fastball over the outside corner for a called third strike, Iglesias skipped off the mound and pointed at the sky, showered by the roar of 15,141 fans on his way back to the dugout.
After sprinting back to the bump for the ninth, he needed just 13 pitches to seal his eighth consecutive save and 10th of the year.
Highlights from the Angels’ 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
“It was definitely one of the most complicated and exciting outings I’ve ever had in my entire career,” Iglesias said through an interpreter.
Earlier in the night, Ohtani had been center stage, matching his season high with 10 strikeouts and pitching his first career MLB game in which he didn’t issue a walk.
His fastball velocity averaged 94.5 mph, which was still down from his season average but marked an increase for his second-straight start.
His splitter was almost untouchable, generating a whiff eight out of nine times the Mariners swung at it.
He also mixed in cutters, sliders and curveballs, finishing the game with a 2.76 season ERA.
After giving up a leadoff home run to J.P. Crawford in the first and sacrifice fly in the third, Ohtani settled down and the Angels (26-31) took the lead on a two-run Justin Upton homer in the bottom of the third and solo blast by Jose Rojas an inning later.
Though Ohtani was only at 76 pitches through six innings, Maddon sensed the right-hander was getting fatigued and opted for left-hander Tony Watson to begin the seventh against the Mariners’ left-handed heavy lineup.
That move worked. The next pitching change, not so much.
Major League Baseball is again using the runner-at-second rule to start extra innings. Several other ideas have been considered.
Mike Mayers entered the game to begin the eighth but immediately got into trouble. He gave up a leadoff double to Taylor Trammell, slipped trying to field a bunt by Donovan Walton, then walked Crawford to load the bases.
When Maddon brought in Iglesias, he said he told the right-hander to just focus on keeping the Mariners (29-30) from taking the lead. But then Iglesias induced a pop out in foul ground against Mitch Haniger and put Kyle Seager away swinging.
Ty France came to the plate next and was rung up on three straight strikes. During the ninth, Iglesias punched out two more batters. In his last 10 outings, he’s given up just two runs.
“That’s who he is,” Maddon said of Iglesias, whose ERA has dropped from 7.71 on April 23 to 3.91 after Friday. “He started out slowly this year, it just wasn’t working. But this is the kind of performance he’s capable of doing.”
It’s the kind of performance Maddon hopes his team is capable of repeating, too, backed by strong starting pitching, timely offense and clutch pitching out of the bullpen.
“Maybe we can look back a couple days from now, a week from now, and things kind of got better, they changed, we’re winning games we’re supposed to win, we’re not giving things up late,” Maddon said. “That would be a wonderful part of a culture I’d like for us to build here.”
Shohei Ohtani’s pitching continues to rise to another level for Angels
From the time he arrived at spring training four months ago, it was clear Shohei Ohtani was able to throw again.
After injuries had kept him off the mound for most of the last 2 1/2 years, he showed up at camp and was hitting triple digits by his second bullpen session, flashing a nasty splitter throughout the exhibition season and even played both ways games for the first time in his major league career.
What Ohtani has done lately — continuing a recent roll on the mound with a strong six-inning, two-run start Friday night — is different.
He’s not just throwing anymore. He’s pitching too.
In the Angels’ 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners, Ohtani matched his season high with 10 strikeouts and gave up just four hits. He threw 76 pitches and found the zone 50 times. After surrendering runs in the first and third innings, he retired 12 of his final 14 batters.
Major League Baseball is again using the runner-at-second rule to start extra innings. Several other ideas have been considered.
Perhaps most impressively, he didn’t issue any walks for the first time in his big league career. This is the kind of Ohtani the Angels have long dreamed about — a right-hander who can command the strike zone, throw in the upper 90s when needed and set up his devastating assortment of off-speed and breaking pitches.
On Friday, his fastball velocity averaged 94.5mph, which was still down from his season average but marked an increase from his previous outing for the second straight start.
His splitter was almost untouchable, generating a whiff eight out of nine times the Mariners swung at it.
He mixed in cutters to effect, getting a whiff or called strike with the pitch more than one-third of the time. And sprinkled in sliders and curveballs early in counts.
The only surprise was that his start didn’t last longer, as Angels manager Joe Maddon opted to turn to left-hander Tony Watson out of the bullpen to begin the seventh against the Mariners’ left-handed-heavy lineup.
Earlier this year, Ohtani’s pitch counts were usually maxed out by the sixth inning, his lack of command forcing him to labor through constant jams. In his first four starts, he was averaging more than a walk per inning.
Angels pitcher Griffin Canning struggled on the mound as the Angels fall to the Seattle Mariners 6-2 on Thursday at Angel Stadium.
“Last year and the early part of this year, he was really more shotgun with the fastball,” Maddon said.
In the four outings since: Only seven walks in 232/3 innings. The closest Ohtani came to issuing a free pass Friday was in the sixth, when he fell behind 3-0 to Kyle Seager. But then Seager fouled off an elevated fastball, whiffed on a cutter that dipped below the zone and went down swinging on a trademark splitter.
Ohtani, who also walked and hit two hard ground balls while batting second Friday, finished his outing an at-bat later, exiting the game with a lead thanks to home runs from Justin Upton and Jose Rojas. Through eight starts this season, Ohtani has a 2.76 ERA.
Shohei Ohtani to hit and pitch against Mariners
For the fifth time this season, Shohei Ohtani will play both ways when he starts on Friday for the Angels against the Seattle Mariners.
The right-hander will bat second in the lineup and make his eighth start of the season on the mound. He enters the game with a 2.72 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings on the mound, and a .908 on-base-plus-slugging percentage with 15 home runs at the plate.
“I talked to Ippei [Mizuhara, Ohtani’s interpreter] before the game and then Ippei brought it to me after the game,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said following Thursday’s series opener against the Mariners. “We talked. He wants to hit tomorrow, too.”
Friday will be Ohtani’s first two-way game since May 19, when he pitched 4 2/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians, then was shifted to right field for 1 1/3 innings to get an extra at-bat.
Ohtani did not hit in his most recent start, a six-inning outing against the Oakland Athletics last Friday, because of the Angels’ short bench and because Maddon wanted to give the right-hander a chance to just focus on pitching after his velocity had dipped during his start against the Indians.
Ohtani’s velocity will once again be something to watch Friday against the Mariners. In that Indians game, his fastball averaged less than 92 mph — well below a season average velocity of more than 96 mph.
His pitch speeds rebounded some against Oakland last week, with his four-seamer averaging 94 mph, but still remained lower than usual.
Ohtani and the Angels have said the velocity drop is not injury related, but the right-hander did admit to some fatigue on several occasions last month.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, pitching coach Matt Wise acknowledged that there has been a workload balance with all of the team’s pitchers coming off last season’s shortened 60-game schedule, but that the team has kept an especially close eye on Ohtani’s two-way exertion.
“Shohei is obviously unique, so we’re going to have to kind of monitor the time in between starts, the time we give him in between bullpens, the days he hits -- all that stuff plays a role,” Wise said. “That’s something we’re going to deal with and try to put everyone in the best position to have success.”
The good news for the Angels? Even without his best fastball velocity, Ohtani has been effective in his past couple starts.
His command has been more consistent, as he’s issued just seven walks in his past 17 2/3 innings. He has worked more efficiently as well, working into the seventh inning in two of his previous three outings.
“His feel for the baseball right now is really, really strong,” Wise said. “And we just have to continue to keep getting him out there so he gets those reps.”
Here’s the Angels full lineup:
Other roster notes from Friday: Left-handed pitcher José Quintana got good news after an MRI revealed only inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Quintana, who was put on the 10-day injured list on May 31, is already playing catch up to 90 feet ... Reliever Chris Rodriguez will return to his middle-innings leverage role now that he is back from the injured list, though any multi-inning outings might be limited while he rebuilds stamina ... Maddon said it is possible shortstop José Iglesias (hamstring strain) could come off the injured list once eligible on Saturday.
Griffin Canning struggles as Angels fall to Mariners
The Angels enjoyed a run of improved starting pitching during a recent surge that carried them into the opener of their latest homestand.
Griffin Canning was unable to contribute to that run Thursday in the first of four games against Seattle.
The right-hander couldn’t make it through the fourth inning on a night when the Angels blew an early two-run lead and lost 6-2.
Canning was lifted after allowing a three-run homer to Jake Fraley, giving the Mariners a 4-2 edge.
In nine of their previous 13 games, Angels starters had gone at least five innings and surrendered no more than three earned runs. The team entered Thursday having won six of nine.
Canning gave up six hits total and walked two. Of his 80 pitches, 50 were strikes. He was replaced by Jose Suarez.
Shohei Ohtani returns to the lineup for Angels vs. Mariners
Shohei Ohtani returned to the Angels’ lineup Thursday for the opener of a four-game series against Seattle.
The two-way standout hadn’t batted since Monday in San Francisco, when he walked as a pinch-hitter. Playing in a National League park, there was no designated hitter during that two-game series.
Ohtani is scheduled to start on the mound Friday against the Mariners in Anaheim. Manager Joe Maddon said he hadn’t decided yet if Ohtani also will bat Friday.
“You can see the difference in the lineup if he (hits) or not,” Maddon said. “That has not been determined yet, honestly. I just have to talk to him and look at everything and try and figure out our best step.”
Ohtani’s most recent pitching start came last Friday in Oakland. He did not hit in that game.
The Angels’ June schedule presents opportunities for the team to shake off adversity to turn things around.
Also Thursday, Justin Upton returned to the middle of the Angels’ order after hitting leadoff in his previous eight games.
Maddon said the decision was made because of the matchup Thursday and added that he likes Upton at the top of the lineup.
“I’m not running away from it,” Maddon said. “It’s just based on our personnel right now…I was not just thinking about the beginning of the game but also thinking about the latter part of today’s game.”
Upton, who entered Thursday sixth among active players with 317 career home runs, batted .290 with an .859 OPS and scored six runs as the Angels’ leadoff hitter. They were 5-3 in those games.
“He’s been wonderful,” Maddon said. “He’s been very vocal in meetings, setting a great example for everybody else. He’ll do whatever. He really well. That’s not hyperbole. He’ll do whatever.”
Upton batted cleanup in the opener against the Mariners, with Phil Gosselin elevated to the leadoff spot.
Also before the game, the Angels reinstated reliever Chris Rodriguez (shoulder) from the injured list and optioned catcher Anthony Bemboom to Triple-A Salt Lake.