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Shohei Ohtani dazzles both ways again in Angels 6-3 win over Blue Jays

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Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to a Toronto Blue Jays batter.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Live updates from the Angels series against the Toronto Blue Jays

Follow along for news, notes and analysis before, during and after each Angels game.

Shohei Ohtani dazzles both ways again as Angels beat Blue Jays 6-3

Shohei Ohtani pitched six innings and had a double in the Angels 6-3 win Thursday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Earlier this season, Shohei Ohtani’s pitching starts were riveting affairs — for better or worse.

The right-hander, then struggling with his fastball command, would walk a lot of batters, get into tricky jams, then escape with wicked splitters and wipeout sliders. He limited damage, though struggled to work very deep into games. He was pitching well, but still had room to grow.

Lately, Ohtani’s recent starts have become almost routine — in all the best ways.

He works quickly, benefiting from improved command with the four-seamer and an increasingly effective cutter. He stays out of trouble, issuing walks to fewer than 4% of batters since the start of July. And he makes quality starts (at least six innings, no more than three earned runs) look easy, pitching his fifth-straight on Thursday in the Angels’ 6-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Where there were once dramatics, there’s now just dominance; instead of suspense, just a suffocating barrage.

And the scary part? Ohtani still doesn’t even think he’s at his best.

“I still haven’t hit my potential yet,” he said through his interpreter. “I think I have room to still get better going forward.”

His six-inning, two-run, six-strikeout performance was more than enough once again to lift the Angels (58-58) to a four-game series split.

Ohtani began the night strong with a scoreless first inning, including a strikeout of George Springer amid a chorus of boos hurled toward the former Houston Astros outfielder (who was with that club during the 2017 sign-stealing scandal).

Then, Ohtani walked to the plate as the leadoff batter in the bottom of the first — playing both ways for the 14th time in 17 starts this year, and batting leadoff for the third consecutive — and laced a double the other way into left-center field.

Ohtani returned to the plate during a four-run second inning for the Angels, drawing a walk and later scoring on Jared Walsh’s two-run single (Kurt Suzuki and Phil Gosselin also had RBIs in the inning).

Meanwhile, he kept cruising on the rubber, yielding his only two runs of the night in the fourth inning when Teoscar Hernandez hit an RBI single and Randal Grichuk drove in another with a double.

It was the first time since June 30 Ohtani had given up more than one run in an inning.

Perhaps the most memorable at-bat of that inning, though: a five-pitch strikeout of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., when Ohtani (MLB’s home run leader) fanned Guerrero Jr. (who has the second-most homers in the majors) with a two-strike slider that tumbled out of the zone.

“[He pitched Guerrero Jr.] really well,” manager Joe Maddon said of Ohtani, who lowered his ERA to 2.93. “He pitched everyone pretty much really well.”

Guerrero Jr., who had a single in the first inning, faced Ohtani one more time in the sixth, drawing a full-count walk. But Ohtani responded, getting Hernandez to line out before getting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to whiff on a slider on his final pitch.

Austin Warren and Raisel Iglesias ensured the Angels lead was never in danger again, sealing a victory that improved Ohtani’s record as a pitcher to 7-1.

“He is fearless in the game, and he goes out there and plays baseball,” Maddon said. “That cannot be emphasized enough … You’re seeing him being so successful because there’s a true joy for what he’s doing.”

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Anthony Rendon relieved to have hip impingement diagnosed, says it impacted his play this season

Anthony Rendon will undergo surgery on a right hip impingement next week. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Anthony Rendon felt like he was going crazy.

All year, the Angels third baseman knew something was wrong with his body. But, frustratingly, he didn’t know what.

From the start of the campaign, he could tell his legs felt weak, sapping the 31-year-old slugger of his usual line-to-line power.

Battling a stabbing pain in his hip, he couldn’t fully rotate at the plate either.

As his numbers suffered, his body did too, with Rendon enduring three different stints on the injured list with left leg injuries — including two resulting from routine plays in the field.

“I know what I was feeling, but I didn’t know what it was stemming from,” Rendon said Thursday, adding: “There was a point there where I thought I was going crazy. Everyone was looking at me like I was, to the point I was almost convinced myself that, ‘maybe, am I making this up?’”

Finally, doctors discovered the problem.

MRIs and other testing revealed Rendon had a right hip impingement, a condition that can cause stiffness and pain. Rendon believes it was the root cause of all his ailments this season, too, contributing to one of his worst statistical big-league campaigns (he had a career-low .240 and just six home runs in 59 games) and both of his non-contact leg injuries.

“I just felt like I had no legs,” he said. “Obviously, your legs are a crucial part of this game, from fielding ground balls to hitting. It just felt weak.”

After a rehab program didn’t fix the issue, the Angels announced on Aug. 4 that Rendon would undergo season-ending surgery. His procedure is scheduled for next week.

“Looking at the grand scheme of things, thought it was a better time just to get it taken care of and not have to worry about it over the next five years,” he said. “It put me at ease a little bit to find answers.”

For most of the season, all Rendon had were questions — about why he was struggling to drive the ball, why he felt a nagging issue in his legs, and why he couldn’t seem to stay healthy for one of the first times in his career.

In April, he suffered a left groin strain in a rain-delayed contest against the Toronto Blue Jays that cost him 11 games. He missed nine games in May after fouling a ball off his knee.

Then on July 4, he suffered a left hamstring strain and hasn’t returned since.

“I was confused why I would have multiple non-contact injuries in the first half of the season,” he said. “Just did some more digging on why this was happening to me, and came to the conclusion it was the right hip. So we just shut everything down.”

Rendon said he had been feeling a “stabbing pain going into your hip, like a clamp was grabbing the front of my hip and the back of my butt.” It had begun last year, but he had written it off as a side effect of the shortened, condensed season. This year, however, it heightened.

Once the hip impingement was diagnosed, Rendon said he spoke with specialists and players who have experienced the same issue and discovered “how that can affect the other parts of your body around the hips.”

Rendon said he expects to be ready by the start of next spring training, but won’t get a more specific timeline until doctors perform the procedure.

“They’ll be able to see exactly what’s going on,” he said. “Sometimes it can be more invasive than the pictures reveal.”

And while his lost 2021 season left Rendon frustrated — “a real success” he sarcastically quipped Thursday after rattling off his stat line — simply knowing what was wrong, and that it can be fixed, helped put his worries to rest too.

“Was kind of able to pinpoint all the pieces,” he said, “and put the puzzle together.”

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Shohei Ohtani to pitch, bat leadoff in series finale

Shohei Ohtani will pitch and bat leadoff for the Angels on Thursday. It will be the 14th time this season Ohtani will play both ways in a game, and the second he’s done so as the leadoff hitter.

Thursday will be the third-straight game overall Ohtani bats leadoff, a move manager Joe Maddon thinks has helped the two-way star get better pitches to hit.

“Whether he’s hitting first or second and pitching, it really doesn’t matter. It’s going to be the same routine for him either way,” Maddon said. “So I just wanted to stay with him up there and see what happens.”

Here is the Angels full lineup for Thursday:

In other roster news Thursday: The Angels reinstated reliever Steve Cishek from the bereavement list and optioned right-hander Aaron Slegers back to Triple-A Salt Lake.

Also, Maddon said catcher Max Stassi was feeling better than expected after getting hit by a pitch on the left forearm Wednesday, and that Stassi should be available to play defensively if needed.

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Shohei Ohtani hits 38th home run, but Angels get blown out by Blue Jays 10-2

George Springer hit two home runs to help the Blue Jays beat the Angels Wednesday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Joe Maddon’s pregame tweak to the lineup worked out for the Angels on Wednesday, after Shohei Ohtani hit his MLB-leading 38th home run of the season while batting leadoff for the second straight night.

Maddon’s other big in-game decision, however, didn’t pan out so well.

With the score tied in the fifth inning, he let left-handed reliever Sam Selman try to work out of a jam. Instead, Selman allowed an inherited runner to score before giving up a back-breaking grand slam in the Angels eventual 10-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the defeat, the Angels dropped to 57-58 and 8 ½ games out of the wild card race — the furthest they’ve been from a playoff spot since June 27.

Here are three observations from Wednesday.

Ohtani homers in leadoff spot

Prior to this week, Ohtani had batted leadoff just four times. But on Wednesday, the two-way star topped the order for the second consecutive game.

The result: A two-run home run to center field in the third inning, a walk in the seventh, and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage on the season of 1.016 by the night’s end.

“I thought he looked really good tonight,” Maddon said. “A lot of things are morphing in his direction.”

After a deep fly out in his first trip to the plate, Ohtani snapped a season-long 13-game home run drought in the third inning, erasing an early two-run deficit with a 413-foot blast to straightaway center field.

Despite being in a 1-2 hole against Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah, Ohtani got to a low slider and hammered it 105.6 mph off the bat.

That was the only big mistake Manoah committed on Wednesday though. Otherwise, the right-hander was lights out in a 6 ⅔-inning, two-run, 11-strikeout outing.

“He’s got really good stuff,” Maddon said of Manoah. “That sink [on his fastball] is different.”

Selman surrenders slam

After the Blue Jays (62-51) chased Angels starter Dylan Bundy with a leadoff double in the fifth — Bundy was only at 62 pitches, but Maddon believed the right-hander’s stuff was declining near the end — they broke the game open against Selman later in the inning.

With one out, Selman gave up an RBI single to Santiago Espinal on a ground ball that got past Jared Walsh at first. Then he issued two walks to load the bases.

After a mound visit from pitching coach Matt Wise, Selman retired Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the second out. But then he made a mistake to Teoscar Hernandez, hanging an 0-1 slider that the Blue Jays right fielder crushed for a grand slam.

Asked postgame why he let Selman, a left-hander, face a pair of righties in Guerrero Jr. and Hernandez, Maddon said he was trying to manage a short-handed bullpen and had been encouraged by Selman’s previous performances against right-handers this season.

But, Maddon also acknowledged, “we lost that gamble right there.”

The Blue Jays kept piling on late, plating three runs against reliever Aaron Slegers in the final two innings. While Guerrero Jr. — considered the No. 2 American League MVP candidate behind Ohtani — drew only a walk in five plate appearances, George Springer hit two solo home runs and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had three hits (including a solo home run) and two RBIs.

Stassi exits early

Catcher Max Stassi left Wednesday’s game in the sixth inning after getting hit by a pitch in the left forearm, forcing Kurt Suzuki to pinch-run and then finish the game behind the plate.

After getting plunked by the 95.1 mph fastball from Manoah, Stassi immediately reeled away in pain and was evaluated by a trainer before exiting the game. As he walked off the field, broadcast cameras appeared to show a welt already forming where he was struck.

The team said X-rays on Stassi’s arm came back negative and that he’d be day to day, though Maddon didn’t sound hopeful about Stassi’s chances of playing on Thursday.

“He’s gonna be sore tomorrow,” Maddon said. “That got all of it and it blew up fast. But there’s no break, from what I understand. We’ll just have to go day by day with him, because I anticipate it’s going to be difficult. If you try and maneuver the bat, it’s gonna be hard tomorrow.”

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Angels vs. Blue Jays updates: Blue Jays win 10-2

A recap of the Blue Jays 10-2 win over the Angels on Wednesday.

End 3rd, tied 2-2 — Blue Jays, Ohtani trade homers: After Dylan Bundy gave up solo home runs to Lourdes Gurriel and George Springer in the top of the third, Shohei Ohtani answered in the bottom half of the inning, smoking a two-run homer to center for his MLB-leading 38th of the year.

The 413-foot blast was Ohtani’s first in 14 games, snapping a season-long drought. He now also has 84 RBI, tied for second-most in the majors.

Top 5th, 7-2 Blue Jays — Toronto takes lead with five-run fifth: First, the Blue Jays chased Dylan Bundy from the game. Then, they broke the score open.

After a leadoff double in the fifth Lourdes Gurriel, Bundy was replaced by left-handed reliever Sam Selman. Selman was ineffective, however. He gave up an RBI single to Santiago Espinal (on a ground ball that got past first baseman Jared Walsh). Then he issued two walks to load the bases.

After a mound visit from pitching coach Matt Wise, Selman retired Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the second out. But then he made a mistake to Teoscar Hernandez, hanging an 0-1 slider that the Blue Jays right fielder crushed for a grand slam.

Bottom 6th, 7-2 Blue Jays — Max Stassi exits after HBP: After getting plunked in the left forearm by a pitch in the sixth inning, Max Stassi had to come out of the game for the Angels. Kurt Suzuki took Stassi’s place as the pinch-runner and will remain in the game to catch. Broadcast cameras appeared to show a welt already forming on Stassi’s arm as he left the field.

The Angels said X-rays on Max Stassi’s arm were negative. He’s considered day-to-day.

Final, Blue Jays win 10-2: The Blue Jays tacked on three late runs against Angels reliever Aaron Slegers to complete their second-straight win over the Angels. The Angels are now 57-58 and 8 1/2 games out of the wild card race — the furthest they’ve been from a playoff spot since June 27.

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Why Shohei Ohtani is batting leadoff again on Wednesday

After batting leadoff just four times in the season’s first 113 games, Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani will do so on Wednesday for the second consecutive contest.

The reason?

“He’s not gonna get pitched to,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I’m trying to protect him with the whole lineup.”

Before last month’s All-Star break, Ohtani had found a dangerous mix of power and patience. In 47 games between May 17 and July 11, he hit 21 home runs and drew a walk on more than 17% of plate appearances.

Since the All-Star break, however, pitchers have seemingly altered their plan of attack against the left-handed slugger — especially with Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh all battling injuries.

While Ohtani has seen slightly more pitches in the strike zone — 46.4% of pitches since All-Star break have been in the zone, compared to 43.9% prior — he’s getting fewer over the middle or inner-half of the plate.

Instead, opponents have focused on pounding the outer corners. In that time, Ohtani has suffered a reduction in power (he hasn’t homered in 13 straight games entering Wednesday) and walks (his walk rate since the All-Star break has dropped to 16.1%).

By moving Ohtani to the top spot in the order, Maddon thinks opposing pitchers might have to get more aggressive.

If they risk walking him, his speed could pose more of a threat, especially with contact-hitting David Fletcher — who has been one of the Angels hottest players over the second half of the season — directly behind him.

“If they choose not to [pitch to Ohtani], I feel like Fletch is going to move the baseball,” Maddon said. “The other part is, if you want to walk him, go ahead and let him run the bases. Just trying to take advantage of his talents in another way, possibly.”

Maddon also said it’s not out of the question Ohtani could leadoff again on Thursday, when he’s scheduled to take the mound in the Angels series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Jared Walsh returns from injury; Perry Minasian updates Mike Trout and more

The Angels’ banged-up lineup got a boost before Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays: First baseman Jared Walsh was activated from the injured list to make his first start since July 26.

Walsh had been out with a right intercostal strain, but came through pregame fielding and batting drills without issue on Wednesday, leading to his reinstatement.

Here is the Angels full lineup for Wednesday: Shohei Ohtani (DH), David Fletcher (2B), Walsh (1B), Phil Gosselin (3B), Brandon Marsh (CF), Max Stassi (C), Adam Eaton (RF), Jo Adell (LF), Jack Mayfield (SS)

Short hops

>Angels general manager Perry Minasian said there have been no internal conversations about potentially shutting down Mike Trout for the rest of the season. The center fielder has been out since May 17 with a calf strain, and the team still doesn’t have a date targeted for a minor-league rehab assignment or big-league return.

“Calves are tricky,” Minasian said, adding: “He’s doing everything he can in his power to get back as soon as he can. From our end, we will not rush him. We want him to feel good about how his calf feels, and to play at his level when he does come back. [There have been] no conversations about shutting him down. We go day to day.”

>The Angels optioned pitcher Chris Rodriguez back to triple A after he started the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader as the extra man on the roster. Minasian said the team hasn’t decided when Rodriguez might make another MLB start. They want to wait and see how the rest of the Angels rotation lines up in the coming days.

>In a corresponding move with Walsh’s reinstatement, the Angels optioned pitcher Packy Naughton back to triple A before Wednesday’s game.

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Angels split doubleheader with Blue Jays

Angels' Shohei Ohtani runs to first base as he grounds out.
Angels’ Shohei Ohtani runs to first base as he grounds out during the third inning in the second game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday at Angel Stadium.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Hours before Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays, individual plastic bags of treats had already been laid out for each Angel. Catcher Max Stassi could expect a single Hi-Chew and Bobo’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar. A Honey Stinger waffle awaited two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.

Every cooler was already stocked — except for that of starting pitcher Chris Rodriguez. He’d been called up from triple A as the 27th man on the roster, the team announced Tuesday. Making the second start of his career, his cooler contained a few bottles of water.

But if he keeps pitching like he did in the first contest of the day, giving up a run in four innings in propelling the Angels to a win, he could find his cooler full of goodies and a permanent place on the Angels staff.

“Today, the point was just making pitches down in the zone, getting groundballs, getting weak contact,” Rodriguez said. “I think I did a really good job of it.”

In the opener Tuesday — making up an April 11 contest that was postponed because of rain — the Angels beat the Blue Jays 6-3 in seven innings, but they fell 4-0 in the second game of the doubleheader.

The first contest wasn’t always pretty for Rodriguez. He gave up six hits and two walks with two strikeouts, putting multiple Blue Jays on base in every inning. But aside from a third-inning RBI double from second baseman Marcus Semien, the young pitcher managed to keep a loaded Toronto lineup off the board with a variety of well-located sinkers.

Between innings, manager Joe Maddon asked Rodriguez what his favorite golf club was. A nine-iron, the pitcher answered. His sinker was his nine-iron, Maddon told him.

“When you get in trouble, go to your favorite club,” he said.

“That made a lot of sense to me, and I like the way he put it,” Rodriguez said.

When he did go to that favorite club, the infield made a number of terrific plays to keep Rodriguez’s head above water. They continued to shine behind second-game starter Jose Suarez, particularly second baseman David Fletcher, who made a ridiculous play on a one-hopper from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the third inning, barehanding and firing to first for the out.

“He’s the best second baseman, I’m saying, in baseball, not just the American League,” Maddon said.

Suarez, however, couldn’t follow up Rodriguez’s effort. He was knocked around to begin the night, surrendering a couple of RBI singles from Guerrero Jr. and right-fielder Teoscar Hernandez.

The left-hander settled in after that, holding Toronto to those two runs through five innings with an effective curveball-changeup-fastball mix. But after surrendering back-to-back singles in the sixth, he was removed for Jose Quijada, who gave up a two-run single to Blue Jays leftfielder Lourdes Gurriel that bumped Suarez’s line to four runs in 5 1/3 innings.

“I felt really good about my outing overall,” Suarez said. “It’s a really good lineup over there ... ’ve just got to keep working.”

The Angels bats, meanwhile, simply couldn’t string anything together after a productive first game, putting up a zero on the scoreboard against a black hole of a Toronto infield.

The doubleheader served as an exciting showcase for the two leading candidates for the American League MVP award, Ohtani and Guerrero Jr. It took awhile for them to get going — they went a combined 0 for 7 with four strikeouts in the first game, including a key Guerrero Jr. misplay of a popup that cost Toronto two runs. Yet after Guerrero Jr. got on the board in the second game, Ohtani knocked a triple down the right-field line the next half-inning.

The Angels star had gone just two for 20 in August coming into Tuesday’s doubleheader. It wasn’t a slump, Maddon said, just a lack of hittable pitches without much protection behind him. Ohtani hit leadoff in the second game to try to get him going.

“It was primarily to have the whole lineup protect him,” Maddon said of the lineup change.

Rodriguez posted a 3.60 ERA in his first two big league starts. Maddon wouldn’t say whether he would remain on the roster, but did indicate the 23-year-old was a part of the end-of-season push to develop their young arms.

“Let him go out there on a continual basis ... eventually, he’ll develop into a starting pitcher at the major league level,” Maddon said.

Notable

Promising young starter Griffin Canning has a stress fracture in his back and will miss the remainder of the season.

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Angels vs. Blue Jays updates: Angels fall 4-0

Top of the first — The Blue Jays waste no time getting on the board against Angels starter Jose Suarez, as a George Springer leadoff double preceded a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. RBI single. Teoscar Hernandez later knocked in Guerrero Jr. to put Toronto up 2-0.

Top of the sixth — José Suarez was cruising after the first-inning jam, but was removed after surrendering back-to-back one-out singles. Reliever José Quijada couldn’t escape, giving up a two-run single to Blue Jays outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to push the Toronto lead to 4-0.

Final — Shohei Ohtani strikes with the bases loaded. Angels lose to Blue Jays 4-0 and split doubleheader.

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Angels find the right lineup to win Game 1 against Blue Jays

With no Mike Trout, Jared Walsh or Anthony Rendon in a usually formidable Angels lineup, manager Joe Maddon has been experimenting over the last couple of weeks to find the right combination behind Shohei Ohtani.

In the first game of a Tuesday doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays, he found it in first baseman Phil Gosselin, who played the hero in driving the Angels to a 6-3 win in seven innings at Angel Stadium.

In the top of the sixth inning, with the Angels leading 4-3 and outfielder Juan Lagares on third, Toronto — serving as the home team in the game — issued an intentional walk to Ohtani with two outs. After Ohtani swiped second, Gosselin, hitting third, promptly hit a two-run single to push the Angels’ lead to three.

Angels starter Chris Rodriguez didn’t have his best stuff, lasting just four innings and giving up six hits and two walks, but walked away with just one run given up. Timely infield defense, particularly from shortstop Jose Iglesias and third baseman Jack Mayfield, helped Rodriguez out of multiple jams.

The Angels will be the home team for the second game, set to begin at 7 p.m. PDT.

Toronto was the home team for the opener after a game between the teams was rained out in Florida in April.

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Phil Gosselin delivers two-run single for Angels in sixth

Top of the sixth: First baseman Phil Gosselin makes the Blue Jays pay for an intentional walk of Shohei Ohtani. After Toronto put Ohtani on first with a runner on third and two outs, Ohtani stole second and Gosselin lined a single into leftfield to score two runs.

Angels 6, Blue Jays 3

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Blue Jays make it a one-run game again

Bottom of the fifth: Toronto notches two two-out runs off reliever Austin Warren. Teoscar Hernandez singled to drive in second baseman Marcus Semien — who’s 3 for 3 in the game — and Corey Dickerson followed with an RBI triple.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3

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Angels add two more runs in fifth inning

Top of the fifth: A huge error by Blue Jays star first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. puts two more runs on the board for the Angels. After Jose Iglesias walked and Justin Upton singled with two outs, rightfielder Jo Adell popped a ball right to Guerrero Jr., but he misplayed it close to the chest and the ball dropped in. Both Iglesias and Upton scored.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 1

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Blue Jays get a run back in bottom of third

Bottom of the third: The Blue Jays, serving as the home team in this game, get a run after Marcus Semien doubles to left-centerfield to score George Springer, who walked to lead off the inning. Chris Rodriguez of the Angels has done a solid job of limiting damage through three innings and holds Toronto to just that run.

Angels 2, Blue Jays 1

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Angels take 2-0 lead in third inning

Top of the third inning: With two outs, first baseman Phil Gosselin singled to right field. Shortstop Jose Iglesias followed with a double down the third-base line, and leftfielder Justin Upton, who had been in a slump, hit a two-run single.

Angels 2, Blue Jays 0

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UPDATE: Jared Walsh won’t play in doubleheader

While the Angels hoped that first baseman Jared Walsh might play Tuesday in the second game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays, he is not available and remains day to day.

Walsh has been on the disabled list since July 27 with a right intercostal strain.

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Angels’ Jared Walsh may be available for Game 2

Angels first baseman Jared Walsh will miss the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays, but may be available for the second, according to manager Joe Maddon.

Walsh, who’s hit .266 with 22 home runs this season, has been on the disabled list since July 27 with a right intercostal strain. Maddon said that the first baseman had to go through a workout Tuesday before the first game in order to be cleared.

Approximately two hours before first pitch, Walsh trotted out of the dugout to take groundballs at first base. His mobility and velocity on throws to second base looked strong, and he engaged in a conversation with a trainer as he walked off the field, touching his side.

The Angels have missed Walsh’s presence in the lineup behind Shohei Ohtani. Infielder Phil Gosselin has filled in admirably on the defensive side of the ball — not making an error in over 133 innings this season at first base — but has struggled to replace the 2021 All-Star’s bat.

Outfielder Adam Eaton played the first inning of his 10-year career at first base on Sunday, and continued taking groundballs there before Tuesday’s doubleheader.

He’s trying to soak in as much information from Walsh and Gosselin as possible, he said.

“I’m very scared over there,” Eaton laughed, “but it’s one of those things where you just try to develop.”

Maddon didn’t have any update on the status of star outfielder Mike Trout, who’s been out since May 17 with a calf injury, or pitcher Alex Cobb, who was placed on the injured list with right wrist inflammation July 30.

Here are the lineups for the first contest Tuesday, per MLB.com.

ANGELS – SP RODRIGUEZ

1. Fletcher 2B, 2. Ohtani DH, 3. Gosselin, 1B, 4. Iglesias SS, 5. Upton LF, 6. Adell RF, 7. Stassi C, 8. Lagares CF, 9. Mayfield 3B

BLUE JAYS – SP MATZ

1. Springer CF, 2. Guerrero Jr. 1B, 3. Semien 2B, 4. Bichette SS, 5. Hernández DH, 6. Dickerson LF, 7. Grichuk RF, 8. Valera 3B, 9. McGuire C

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Griffin Canning to miss rest of season with low back stress fracture

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning walks behind the mound after giving up a single.
Griffin Canning will miss the rest of the season with a low back stress fracture. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Angels pitcher Griffin Canning will miss the rest of the season with a low back stress fracture, the team announced Tuesday.

Canning, 25, hadn’t pitched since making a two-inning start with triple-A Salt Lake on July 8. Before that, the right-hander had made 14 outings (13 starts) in the big leagues this year, posting a 5-4 record with a career-high 5.60 ERA. He was optioned to the minor leagues on July 3.

A former second-round draft pick, the Mission Viejo native had been one of the Angels’ most promising young pitchers in recent seasons. In his rookie 2019 campaign, he was 5-6 with a 4.58 ERA in 18 appearances (17 starts). Amid last season’s shortened schedule, he had a 3.99 ERA in 11 starts.

This year, however, Canning couldn’t replicate that consistency. He struggled in April with an 8.40 ERA, failed to capitalize on a brief run of success in early May, and was finally sent down after giving up six runs in a 2 ⅔-inning start against the Baltimore Orioles on July 2 — the first time he had returned to the minors since making his debut.

After his lone start in Salt Lake — a two-inning, six-run outing — he was placed on the injured list with what the team initially said was a low back strain. The Angels didn’t immediately announce Tuesday how long Canning’s recovery might take.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to take,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Canning’s rehabilitation. “We do want him back. I have a lot of respect for Griff.”

This is the second time Canning has suffered a stress fracture in his back. He missed the end of his freshman season at UCLA in 2015 with another stress fracture, though he was able to come back and pitch the next year.

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AL MVP favorite? It’s Shohei all the way

As Shohei Ohtani climbed the dugout steps, some 50,000 spectators rose to their feet.

In Saturday night’s game between the Angels and Dodgers, just the sight of the two-way star was enough to cause a stir.

Though Ohtani didn’t start any of the three games, with his designated hitter spot unavailable in the National League Freeway Series and his turn in the rotation not due up, he pinch-hit each day. And when he walked to the plate Saturday, a tied game hung the balance. Chavez Ravine came to life.

Part of the crowd broke out in cheers. Others desperately booed. Some began chanting “M-V-P!” But all admired, either in fear or anticipation or simple awe at a player who, even four months into an historic season, continues to perform in a way the sport has never seen.

“I know there’s other guys having good years, but you have to stop and really analyze and think about what’s going on here,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said recently, when asked to evaluate Ohtani’s chances of winning the American League most valuable player award. “There’s nobody who even comes close to what he’s doing.”

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Angels vs. Blue Jays betting odds for Tuesday

The Angels will be both a home and road team in their doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday because of a rainout earlier in the season. It’s the Angels’ first doubleheader since May 20.

In the first game the Angels will technically be the road team with Chris Rodriguez making his second career start after going six innings with four runs given up to the Texas Rangers on Aug. 2. Rodriguez has a 2-1 record with a 3.86 ERA with that start and 13 relief appearances and has yet to surrender a home run across 25 2/3 innings. He has a 4.09 ERA and .273 opponents batting average in home games versus a 3.69 ERA and .185 opponents batting average on the road.

The Blue Jays will use Steven Matz in Game 1. He has shownincredible volatility with four or more runs given up in five of his last 10 starts and zero or one run in four of those 10 starts as well. With the Blue Jays having played in Dunedin, Fla.,, Buffalo and Toronto this season, this will be the fourth different ballpark Matz will have made a home start in this season.

In Game 2 the Angels will be the home team and turn to Jose Suarez for his sixth start after beginning the season as a long reliever. Suarez has not been as effective as a starter, giving up 15 runs across 14 2/3 innings in his last three starts after posting a 1.98 ERA across 27 1/3 innings as a reliever.

Ross Stripling will start Game 2 for Toronto and will look to limit hard contact, as he is giving up 2.2 home runs per nine innings. He also is averaging 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings on the road compared to 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings at home.

The Angels have played 65.5% of their games at home over the total this season, the highest mark in the league, but overall enter having scored four runs or fewer in 10 of their last 12 games and 14 of their last 20 games overall having gone under the total.

The Blue Jays have played a league-high 61.1% of their road games under the total despite leading the majors in home runs. They have given up four runs or fewer in 11 of their last 14 games and are 10-2 in their last 12 games.

https://www.vsin.com/matchup/mlb/laa_tor/2021-08-10/

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