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Standout performance by Shohei Ohtani not enough as Angels fall to A’s in 10th

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Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani points to catcher Max Stassi.
Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani points to catcher Max Stassi after getting the last out of the sixth inning during a 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Shohei Ohtani strikes out 10, but goes winless in consecutive starts as the Angels lose to the Oakland Athletics in Sunday’s series finale.

Shohei Ohtani showcases his splitter prowess, throwing it 55 times vs. Oakland

Shohei Ohtani shines in Angels’ loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

Shohei Ohtani threw a nasty split-fingered fastball in the first inning on Sunday that raised the eyebrows of Angels manager Joe Maddon, who is not used to seeing his two-way star go to his signature put-away pitch so soon.

“It was a really good one, and I looked at [pitching coach Matt Wise] and said, ‘Splitter? That early?’ ” Maddon said after a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Oakland Athletics in Angel Stadium. “I think he was experimenting with some different grips, and apparently it was working pretty well.

“He had good command of it. You saw the swing and miss or the weak contact. He’s based on feel. When he’s feeling something, he’s gonna stay with it and not force something else.”

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Shohei Ohtani strikes out 10 as Angels fall to Athletics, 3-2

The Angels did well to take Shohei Ohtani off the hook for a loss on a day the two-way star threw one of his better games of the season, an eight-inning, two-run, five-hit, 10-strikeout effort in which he threw a career-high 55 split-fingered fastballs, inducing 17 swinging strikes with the sharp-breaking pitch.

But a two-run rally to tie the score in the bottom of the ninth only seemed to delay the inevitable — the Oakland Athletics pushed across a run in the 10th inning for a 3-2 victory before 22,456 in Angel Stadium, completing a three-game sweep that improved Oakland to 15-4 against the Angels this season.

“Nobody keeps track of moral victories,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of the comeback, “but when you’re trying to ascend, that doesn’t get lost on me.”

Kieran Lovegrove this year went public with complaints about how the Angels were treating their minor leaguers. Since then, he’s seen some encouraging signs.

Ohtani fell short in a bid for his 10th win of the season, but at least he didn’t suffer a loss after matching his career high for innings, whiffing 10 or more for the fifth time in his career and throwing 72 of his 108 pitches for strikes.

The right-hander retired the side in order in the first and fifth innings and struck out the side — Seth Brown, Yan Gomes and Elvis Andrus — on splitters in the seventh.

He escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth by getting Jed Lowrie to pop out to shortstop and striking out Matt Chapman with a splitter, two pitches after throwing a 99-mph fastball on his 106th pitch of the game.

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani went to his splitter early and often against the Athletics, racking up the most splitters in a game since 2008.

His only two mistakes were a hanging slider that Gomes hit for a 420-foot solo homer to center in the third and a grooved 95-mph fastball that Chapman crushed for a 425-foot solo shot to center in the fourth.

“Overall, I felt good with all of my pitches command-wise,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “Just those two pitches I gave up for home runs were very regrettable.”

The Angels managed one hit — Brandon Marsh’s two-out double in the third — in seven innings off A’s starter Frankie Montas and went down in order against left-hander Jake Diekman in the eighth.

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani celebrates after striking out Oakland's Matt Chapman to end the eighth inning Sunday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Third baseman Jack Mayfield preserved the 2-0 deficit when he raced in from the shortstop spot — where he was shifted — to catch Matt Olson’s popup between the mound and home plate with the bases loaded to end the top of the ninth.

Phil Gosselin led off the bottom of the ninth with a double to left off Sergio Romo, and Jared Walsh tapped a grounder to a vacated shortstop spot for an infield single, advancing Gosselin to third.

Luis Rengifo’s hard grounder to first was bobbled by Olson, who touched the bag for an out, Gosselin holding and Walsh taking second.

Highlights from the Angels’ 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

Jose Rojas stroked an RBI single to right to cut the lead to 2-1. Walsh was held by third-base coach Brian Butterfield but scored for a 2-2 tie when Brown’s throw from right sailed over the catcher’s head and to the backstop.

Rojas took second on the throw but was stranded when Lou Trivino replaced Romo and struck out Max Stassi and Mayfield to end the ninth. The A’s scored in the 10th on Lowrie’s sacrifice fly, and Trivino threw a scoreless bottom of the 10th.

Short hops

The Rocket City Trash Pandas, the Angels’ double-A affiliate in Madison, Ala., canceled its final two regular-season home games against Pensacola over the weekend because of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. The team finished its inaugural season with a 54-56 record.

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Shohei Ohtani continues to heat up, but Angels can’t rally in 3-1 loss to A’s

Athletics infielder Josh Harrison looks at the ball after making a game-ending catch against the Angels on Sept. 18, 2021.
Athletics second baseman Josh Harrison looks at the ball after making a game-ending catch against the Angels on Saturday night.
(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

After slumping for much of the last month, Shohei Ohtani seems to be getting back on track at the plate.

On Saturday night, however, the Angels’ lineup as a whole failed to come through in the clutch, twice squandering the potential tying runs on base in the latter innings of a 3-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Saturday’s loss was sealed in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth, when A’s second baseman Josh Harrison made a leaping catch to rob Max Stassi of what likely would have been a game-tying two-run single.

“We’ve had a lot of those games [against the A’s],” said Angels manager Joe Maddon, whose club fell to 4-14 against Oakland this season. “We just have to keep fighting to break through and beat them.”

The Angels (72-76) will get one more chance in Sunday’s series finale. Until then, here are three observations from the game.

Shohei Ohtani continues turnaround at plate

After suffering through an eight-for-58 slump earlier this month, Ohtani has begun to regain form at the plate with five hits over the last three games.

His two singles Saturday provided perhaps the most encouraging signs yet.

For the first time since Aug. 13, Ohtani went the other way for a base hit in the seventh inning, sending a soft line drive past a shifted infield.

In the ninth inning, Ohtani kept his other-way approach, lining his second hit of the night into left-center field.

“Beautiful thing,” said Maddon, who had cited Ohtani’s tendency to pull the ball as one of the biggest issues of his recent hitting struggles. “If we get him going in that direction, he’s going to get hot towards the end of the year. … That’s exactly what he looks like when he is going well.”

Kieran Lovegrove this year went public with complaints about how the Angels were treating their minor leaguers. Since then, he’s seen some encouraging signs.

Maddon said Angels hitting coaches had been working with Ohtani, who is now batting .258 on the season with a .954 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, in recent weeks to try to rediscover his other-way approach.

After only pulling the ball 43.2% of the time during the first four months of the season, Ohtani’s pull rate had skyrocketed to 60.7% since the start of August.

“When you get into a pull mode, or pulling off the ball mode, it’s hard,” Maddon said, adding: “He probably just wasn’t feeling the right move [before]. … It takes time. That’s why 162 is the appropriate number of games to feel the ebb and flow of the season. That’s what’s going on. And it’d be nice to see him get back into that left-center gap and finish really strong.”

Angels can’t complete comeback

Ohtani’s two singles also sparked the two best comeback chances Saturday for the Angels, who trailed by three after the opening inning.

After Ohtani’s first hit led off the seventh, Jared Walsh singled with one out to put two aboard.

Then, the Angels got runners on the corners after a double-play grounder from Luis Rengifo was overruled by a video review, with officials determining A’s reliever Deolis Guerra didn’t complete his catch after falling while covering first base on the play. (A’s manager Bob Melvin was ejected for arguing the replay ruling.)

José Rojas singled home Ohtani in the next at-bat to make it 3-1, but the Angels couldn’t take further advantage, as Stassi struck out looking to end the threat.

An arrest warrant has been issued against Angels infielder Luis Rengifo in his native Venezuela, according to multiple reports.

The ninth inning followed a similar script. Ohtani led off with a single, then later took third on a base hit from Rengifo. With two outs, Rojas drew a walk to load the bases.

But the rally ended with Stassi again, with the catcher this time getting robbed by Harrison’s leaping snag on a line drive back up the middle to end the game.

“He had to time that jump perfectly and did,” Maddon said of Harrison’s catch. “It wasn’t scorched, but it’s one of those things that normally just gets over somebody’s glove. It didn’t. That’s been the tale of the tape for us against them this year.”

José Suarez continues to pitch well

The Angels' José Suarez pitches against the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 18, 2021.
The Angels’ José Suarez gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Athletics.
(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Angels starter José Suarez gave up three early runs Saturday. Command of his pitches seemed to come and go throughout the night. In what has become a breakout season for the left-hander, his latest start lacked his sharpest stuff.

And yet Suarez completed 5 2/3 innings anyway, holding the A’s (81-67) to three runs and six hits. He struck out three and walked two.

“I told him when he came out of the game, ‘Listen, you did not have your best everything tonight, but you got deeply into this game,’” Maddon said. “That’s a really good sign.”

The first inning was an issue again for Suarez. After entering the night with a 5.73 ERA in opening innings, he was tagged with three runs during a two-out rally by the A’s.

Matt Olson hit an 0-2 fastball over the plate for a solo home run. After that, Mark Canha walked before Chad Pinder and Matt Chapman hit back-to-back RBI doubles.

“They scored three runs off me in the first inning, but I tried to keep my mind off that,” Suarez said through an interpreter. “Just wanted to keep out there and compete, battle.”

Indeed, Suarez did.

Highlights from the Angels’ 3-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.

He stranded a two-out double in the second, retired the side in order in the third and fourth, then escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth by getting Canha to hit into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

With a runner on second and two outs in the sixth, he was replaced by reliever Oliver Ortega, who ended the inning without any further damage.

Suarez, 23, now has a 3.67 ERA in 21 outings (12 starts) this year.

“The kid almost pitched six innings tonight against a really good ballclub,” Maddon said. “He did it based on a lot of guile and guts, and the fact that he’s turning into a big league pitcher.”

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Angels vs. A’s recap: A’s win 3-1

A recap of the Oakland Athletics’ 3-1 win over the Angels on Saturday.

Top 1st, 3-0 A’s — José Suarez struggles in first inning: Entering Saturday, first innings had been somewhat troublesome for Angels starter José Suarez, who had a 5.73 ERA in that frame this season.

The A’s only made it worse, striking for three quick runs to open the game.

After Suarez got the first two batters out, he yielded a solo hmoe run to Matt Olson on an 0-2 fastball over the plate. After that, he walked Mark Canha then gave up back-to-back RBI doubles to Chad Pinder and Matt Chapman.

Mid 5th, 3-0 A’s — Suarez settles down: Since the three-run first-inning, José Suarez has hit a groove. He stranded a two-out double in the second, retired the side in order in the third and fourth, then escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth by getting Mark Canha to hit into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

The Angels lineup, however, has yet to get going against A’s starter James Kaprielian, who has allowed just one baserunner through four innings.

Top 6th, 3-0 A’s — Suarez exits after 5 2/3 innings: José Suarez got through 5 2/3 innings, exiting his start with two outs in the sixth and a runner at second, who was later stranded by reliever Oliver Ortega.

Suarez’s final line: 5 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts. His ERA is now 3.67.

Bottom 7th, 3-1 A’s — Ohtani singles, scores Angels first run: For the first time since Aug. 13, Shohei Ohtani went the other way for a base hit, sending a soft line drive past the shift to for a leadoff single in the seventh against reliever Deolis Guerra.

It sparked the Angels’ best chance of the night. With one out, Jared Walsh lifted a one-out single to center. Then, the Angels seemingly caught a break on a review, after a double-play grounder from Luis Rengifo was overruled after Guerra failed to hold onto the ball while covering the bag at first. (A’s manager Bob Melvin was ejected after storming out to argue the changed call).

With runners on the corners, Jose Rojas put the Angels on the board in the next at-bat, lining a single to second to drive home Ohtani from third.

The Angels failed to add anything else though, as Max Stassi struck out looking to end the inning.

Final, A’s win 3-1: Shohei Ohtani’s second hit of the night sparked another Angels threat, preceding a two-out single by Luis Rengifo and walk from Jose Rojas to load the bases.

The game ended on a stellar defensive play by Josh Harrison though, as the A’s second baseman made a leaping catch to rob Max Stassi of what likely would have been a game-tying two-run single.

The Angels are now 72-76.

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Joe Maddon believes David Fletcher deserves Gold Glove. He hopes sabermetrics don’t sway vote

David Fletcher throws during a game.
David Fletcher entered Saturday second among AL second basemen in fielding percentage.
(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

Before he took a question in his pregame scrum on Saturday, Angels manager Joe Maddon raised the first topic on his own.

“There’s dispute whether or not David Fletcher deserves the Gold Glove,” Maddon said of the team’s 27-year-old second baseman. “The fact that it’s even considered a race absolutely amazes me.”

In Maddon’s opinion, Fletcher hasn’t just been the best second baseman in the American League this year, but also “the gold standard for how to play that position.”

After an uncharacteristic start to the year defensively, including four errors in May, Fletcher has made just four more errors since.

He entered Saturday without an error in his past 45 games.

And, in his first full season playing second base everyday, he has the second-best fielding percentage among qualified players at the position in the AL, behind only Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals.

Kieran Lovegrove this year went public with complaints about how the Angels were treating their minor leaguers. Since then, he’s seen some encouraging signs.

“There’s a lot of other players that are nice,” Maddon said. “But nobody can do what he does.”

Maddon’s issue on Saturday was with some of the advanced metrics that rank Fletcher below others at the position.

While most ratings have been kind to Fletcher — in Baseball Reference’s defensive runs saved metric, he ranks second among qualified AL second baseman; in Baseball Savant’s outs above replacement rankings, he is third — the most important one has not.

The SABR Defensive Index accounts for 25% of the Gold Glove award calculation (the other 75% is based upon manager voting). And in its most recent update on Aug. 22, Fletcher ranked just seventh out of 14 qualified AL second baseman, with a score of 1.1 that was far behind the 7.4 mark held by leader Marcus Semien of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The SDI isn’t the only sabermetric measurement that has Fletcher ranked lower than others, either.

According to Fangraphs’ defensive ratings, Fletcher is ranked seventh out of nine qualified AL second baseman — which factors into his mediocre 0.2 wins above replacement mark in Fangraphs’ calculation of the metric.

Semien is also the leader in Fangraphs ranking of AL second basemen.

Maddon didn’t call out any specific metrics Saturday, but complained generally that those advanced metrics don’t account for some of Fletcher’s best attributes, such as the accuracy of his throws, the difficulty of some of his throwing positions and the way he can quickly turn double plays.

“If you’re just going to go by a generated numerical metric number, you’re going to be deceived often,” Maddon said. “Some teams are better at setting guys up where they need to be to begin with, and some guys benefit from better pitching staffs where the ball is not hit as hard on a consistent basis.”

Maddon added: “Don’t tell me there’s anybody out there, in both leagues, that plays that position better than [Fletcher] does. For anybody trying to make that argument anywhere, come see me. I want to get that out there right now before people start voting. Because it would be an absolute shame if anybody thought there’s anybody better than him at that position.”

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White Sox pitcher suspended for hitting Shohei Ohtani with pitch

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani during the team's series in Chicago this week.
(Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

MLB announced Saturday it has suspended Chicago White Sox pitcher Mike Wright for three games and issued him a fine for throwing at Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Thursday.

White Sox manager Tony La Russa also received an automatic one-game suspension.

Wright is appealing the decision, according to the league.

Wright hit Ohtani with a pitch in the leg in the ninth inning of Thursday’s game. Earlier in the same at-bat, he had also missed well inside with a couple of other tosses.

Wright was ejected by the umpires, who also tossed La Russa after he came out of the dugout to argue their decision.

Afterward, La Russa said the hit by pitch was unintentional.

Angels manager Joe Maddon, however, said he believed it was on purpose as retaliation for a couple of Angels hit by pitches — which Maddon said were unintentional — earlier in the series.

“It was retaliatory,” Maddon said. “We knew that.”

Ohtani expected to play both ways Sunday

Not only will Shohei Ohtani return to the mound Sunday after having a scheduled Friday start scratched because of arm soreness, but Maddon said he expects the two-way star to play both ways in the series finale against the Oakland A’s.

“I haven’t talked to him yet [to make a final decision],” Maddon said. “That will be after the game tonight. But as of right now, I expect he will.”

Maddon also said Ohtani won’t be on any pitch restrictions after overcoming his arm soreness this week.

“Sore is not bad, pain is bad,” Maddon said. “So when somebody’s sore, sometimes you heal from soreness and actually become stronger after that ... He just might have needed that extra day or two. That’s all.”

Short hops

  • Pitchers Reid Detmers and Austin Warren — who have both been out since last month after battling COVID-19 — threw a simulated game on Saturday afternoon. Warren tossed 17 pitches and is planned to return to the active roster on Monday. Detmers, a starter, threw 40 pitches and is slated to throw another simulated game this coming week before returning next weekend.

  • The Angels recalled right-handed pitcher Cooper Criswell Saturday and optioned left-hander Jhonathan Diaz, who went 1 2/3 innings in a start on Friday, back to triple A.
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After battling arm soreness, Shohei Ohtani set to return to mound Sunday

El japonés Shohei Ohtani, de los Angelinos de Los Ángeles, sonríe luego de permitir un doble.
Shohei Ohtani will pitch on Sunday after battling arm soreness earlier this week. (AP Foto/Eric Christian Smith)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A few hours before the Angels’ 5-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Friday night, Shohei Ohtani‘s status as a pitcher was uncertain.

By the time he got through pregame activities, however, the two-way star was already scheduled for his next pitching start.

Ohtani will take the mound Sunday, the Angels announced, two days after he was scratched from a scheduled Friday start because of arm soreness.

“Shohei was all about pitching on Sunday, so we readjusted,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said, later adding: “He was adamant.”

In his afternoon media scrum, Maddon struck a very different chord, claiming he didn’t know “if it’s going to be possible to throw [Ohtani] again or not” before the end of the season.

But then, Ohtani took the field pregame and completed a full slate of activities.

Kieran Lovegrove this year went public with complaints about how the Angels were treating their minor leaguers. Since then, he’s seen some encouraging signs.

He went through throwing drills against an outfield wall, a staple of his between starts routine this year. He then played catch in the outfield for several minutes. And finally, he went into the bullpen for a 32-pitch session that started out as a test but quickly turned into an affirmation.

“[Pitching coach Matt] Wise came in right afterward and said it was a full gorilla bullpen,” Maddon said. “He went after it … It just got more involved because he felt good.”

It marked a stark turnaround for Ohtani, who was scratched from Friday’s start after experiencing some general soreness in his pitching arm following a game of catch earlier this week.

While Maddon didn’t initially guarantee Ohtani would return this season, and said he even asked the right-hander about potentially shutting things down with so little time left in the season, the manager was also hopeful Ohtani was just experiencing normal late-season fatigue — that after a couple extra days of rest, he would start to feel better again.

By Friday night, Maddon said that’s exactly what had happened.

“Had he been throwing and it did not feel well, he would have probably backed out of it,” Maddon said. “But the fact that he felt well, he just wanted to put himself through the paces a bit.”

In the meantime, the Angels (72-75) still had to scramble for new pitching plans on Friday, calling up 25-year-old left-hander Jhonathan Diaz to make his MLB debut.

Angels starting pitcher Jhonathan Diaz throws during the first inning Friday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Diaz didn’t last long, working out of a bases-loaded jam in the first before surrendering two runs from another bases-loaded squeeze in the second. He exited after 1⅔ innings, charged with two runs, two hits, four walks and a hit batter.

While the Angels responded quickly, striking for four runs in the bottom of the second on a solo homer from Kurt Suzuki, run-scoring bunt by Juan Lagares and two-run single from David Fletcher, their lead didn’t last.

The A’s (80-67) got one run back in the third on a Josh Harrison sacrifice fly, then went back in front with two runs in the sixth inning after rookie reliever Jose Marte — making his first appearance in almost a month after being placed on the injured list in August during the Angels’ COVID-19 issues — walked a couple batters and Suzuki committed two passed balls behind the plate.

An arrest warrant has been issued against Angels infielder Luis Rengifo in his native Venezuela, according to multiple reports.

“We lost the game based on walks tonight,” Maddon said. “We outplayed them all night long. I loved the way he played tonight. We just gave up some points to them … The thing that did us in was walks. From a pitching perspective, young guys, we got to get over that.”

For Sunday, at least, that shouldn’t be a concern. Ohtani will be back on the mound after all, continuing his campaign as a pitcher after overcoming this week’s injury scare.

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Earthquake felt at Angel Stadium

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake near Carson was felt at Angel Stadium during the bottom of the third inning, as a soft tremor rattled the venue for several moments.

Play wasn’t interrupted and there didn’t seem to be a strong reaction from the crowd. Even the YouTube broadcast of the game failed to notice or mention the sensation.

>>> Find more information about the earthquake here.

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Angels vs. A’s recaps: A’s win 5-4

A recap of the Oakland Athletics 5-4 win over the Angels on Friday night.

Top 2nd, 2-0 A’s — Jhonathan Diaz exits after early trouble: After escaping a bases loaded jam in the first inning, Jhonathan Diaz’s MLB debut ended after encountering more trouble in the second.

After yielding a single to Yan Gomes, the left-hander walked the next two batters to load the bases again. This time, the A’s took advantage, as Josh Harrison rolled a single through the left side of the infield to score a run.

Diaz’s outing ended two batters later, after Matt Olson lifted a sacrifice fly to center that made it 2-0.

Diaz’s final line: 1 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 4 walks (plus a hit-by-pitch) and 2 strikeouts.

Bottom 2nd, Angels lead 4-2 — Angels rally for lead: After falling behind, the Angels offense quickly rallied in the bottom of the second.

After Kurt Suzuki led off the inning with a solo home run, the Angels lineup manufactured a few more. Luis Rengifo reached on an error by shortstop Josh Harrison. Jack Mayfield singled to put runners on the corners.

After that, Juan Lagares dropped down a bunt to score a run and reached safely after an error by A’s pitcher Cole Irvin. Brandon Marsh bunted in the next at-bat too, moving runners to second and third.

David Fletcher then gave the Angels the lead, lining a two-run single into left-center field.

Top 3rd, Angels lead 4-3 — A’s get one back: The A’s trimmed the Angels’ lead in half on a sacrifice fly by Josh Harrison, but reliever Kyle Tyler limited the damage there by getting a groundout in the next at-bat to end the inning.

Top 5th, Angels lead 4-3 — A’s squander bases-loaded chance: For the third time in five innings, the A’s loaded the bases. But with one out in the fifth, the Angels escaped on an impressive double-play, with shortstop Luis Rengifo flipping the ball underhand to second baseman David Fletcher, who then made a quick turn and throw to first.

Top 6th, A’s lead 5-4 — Jose Marte makes return, but A’s take lead: After spending almost a month on the injured list after the Angels’ COVID-19 issues in late August, Jose Marte made his return Friday, entering with one out in the sixth and a runner on first.

It didn’t go smoothly, however.

Marte issued two walks and watched two pitches get past catcher Kurt Suzuki for passed balls. The A’s didn’t record a hit against him, but two runs scored on his watch anyway, giving Oakland a 5-4 lead.

Bottom 8th, A’s lead 5-4 — Angels make final out of eighth inning on bases: After stranding a runner in the sixth and going down in order in the seventh, the Angels were on the verge of a rally in the eighth.

With pinch-runnner Kean Wong at first and two outs, Luis Rengifo lined a soft single into left-center, seemingly moving the tying run into scoring position.

Wong, however, tried going all the way to third. It didn’t work. Instead, he was thrown out by center fielder Starling Marte to end the inning.

Final, A’s win 5-4: The A’s held on in the ninth to take the opening game of the series 5-4. The Angels dropped to 72-75 on the season.

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Jhonathan Diaz to make MLB debut for Angels; Dylan Bundy likely done for year

Jhonathan Diaz pitches for Venezuela against the Dominican Republic in the WBSC Baseball Americas qualifier super round.
Jhonathan Diaz pitches for Venezuela against the Dominican Republic in the WBSC Baseball Americas qualifier super round in West Palm Beach, Fla., on June 4.
(Mark Brown / Getty Images)

There will be another new face on the mound for the Angels on Friday night.

With Shohei Ohtani unavailable to pitch because of arm soreness, the Angels called up 25-year-old left-hander Jhonathan Diaz to start the series opener against the Oakland Athletics.

In the minor leagues this year, Diaz has a 4.01 earned-run average in 16 outings, 12 starts, between double A and triple A.

He will become the 17th pitcher to start a game for the Angels this season.

Manager Joe Maddon said Diaz is stretched out to 100 pitches and won’t be under any workload restrictions.

Here’s the rest of the Angels’ lineup for Friday — including Brandon Marsh serving as leadoff hitter for a second straight game, something Maddon said he could continue to experiment with for the rest of the year.

Dylan Bundy not expected to return

With less than three weeks to play, Maddon said he would be “surprised” if pitcher Dylan Bundy is able to return to the mound this season.

Bundy has been out since late August because of a right shoulder strain.

Maddon said Bundy was supposed to throw three innings in a simulated game this week during the team’s series in Chicago but only managed to get through two innings.

“He felt good after that, but the overall strength level wasn’t there,” Maddon said. “At this point, I’d be surprised if he’s able to come back. We haven’t shut it down. But I’d be surprised.”

Short hops

— Maddon said outfielder Justin Upton is continuing to rehabilitate a right lumbar strain and that it’s unclear whether he will be able to return before the end of the season.

— As expected, the Angels put pitcher Jose Marte back on the active roster Friday, almost a month after he went on the injured list amid the Angels’ issues with COVID-19 in late August.

Pitcher Elvis Peguero was returned to triple-A Salt Lake — and removed from the 40-man roster — in a corresponding move.

— After less than a year as the Angels’ special advisor to the general manager, Gene Watson rejoined the Kansas City Royals on Friday as that club’s vice president and assistant general manager of major-league scouting. Watson had spent 14 years in the Royals organization before joining the Angels last offseason, where he was reunited with long-time friend Perry Minasian.

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