Giants bust out for seven runs in 13th inning of 9-3 win over Angels
The Angels had Wednesday’s game against the San Francisco Giants won when Juan Lagares slid home with the decisive 12th-inning run, plate umpire Ryan Additon ruling Lagares safe on a bang-bang play. And then they didn’t.
Additon’s call was overruled by replay review, and the Giants broke out for seven runs in the 13th inning of a 9-3 victory, the game ending for the short-handed Angels with outfielder Taylor Ward making his big league debut behind the plate, pitcher Griffin Canning in left field and pitchers filling two batting-order spots.
The Angels went one for 15 with runners in scoring position, failing to score the winning run after Jared Walsh’s leadoff double in the ninth, loading the bases with one out in the 10th, putting two on with no outs in the 11th and runners on first and third with one out after scoring the tying run in the 12th.
“Just one of those games, man,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after the grueling 4-hour, 51-minute marathon. “You can win it in so many ways, and you don’t, and that’s frustrating.”
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A marquee mound matchup between Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani and Giants ace Kevin Gausman didn’t disappoint, Ohtani giving up one run and six hits in six innings, striking out nine and throwing a season-high 105 pitches, and Gausman giving up one run and four hits in seven innings, striking out nine.
Ohtani hit for himself, marking the first time in major league history a National League team used a designated hitter and an American League team did not, a gamble considering Justin Upton’s lower-back injury forced the Angels to play with a two-man bench of catcher Max Stassi and utility man Phil Gosselin.
The strategy worked for most of the day, as Maddon used Gosselin as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and Stassi in the 10th, but things went haywire in the 12th, when catcher Kurt Suzuki departed after taking a foul ball off the face mask.
Ward moved from left field to catcher, Canning entered in left field, and when Ohtani’s spot came up in the 12th, Maddon was forced to pinch-hit pitcher Dylan Bundy, who struck out with two on to end the inning.
“So many things went wrong,” Maddon said.
The Giants took a 2-1 lead in the 12th when Steven Duggar hit an RBI double, but Angels reliever Steve Cishek escaped further damage.
Canning opened the bottom of the 12th with a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance runner Jose Iglesias to third. Lagares reached on an infield single that scored Iglesias for a 2-2 tie.
David Fletcher beat out a tapper to second for a single, Lagares advancing to third with a head-first slide. Up stepped Luis Rengifo, who hit a score-tying solo homer in the fifth, and to the on-deck circle went Upton, Maddon using the slugger as a decoy so the Giants wouldn’t intentionally walk Rengifo to face a pitcher.
The Angels send relievers Chris Rodriguez and Jaime Barria back to the minors and reinstate José Quintana from the injured list.
“We just wanted Rengifo to get a pitch, and he got it,” Maddon said. “We just didn’t take advantage.”
Rengifo grounded to first baseman Darin Ruf, who threw home. Lagares was initially called safe, his foot reaching the plate as catcher Buster Posey applied the tag, but the call was overturned.
“What I saw was a safe call, and when I saw the replay, I didn’t think there was anything conclusive to overturn it,” Maddon said.
The Giants took advantage of the reprieve in the 13th, Brandon Crawford drawing a bases-loaded walk from Alex Claudio, Posey scoring on Junior Guerra’s wild pitch, Duggar hitting a two-run single and Mike Tauchman, who struck out five times, crushing a three-run homer.
Joe Maddon on Girardi-Scherzer tiff: Let the umpires do their jobs
Angels manager Joe Maddon has no intention of igniting the kinds of fireworks that erupted in Tuesday night’s Washington-Philadelphia game, when Phillies manager Joe Girardi asked umpires to check Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer for illegal substances in the fourth inning.
Scherzer, who had already been checked twice in the game, responded by angrily tossing his cap and glove onto the ground and unbuckling his belt, as if to challenge the umpires to find something.
The veteran right-hander and three-time National League Cy Young Award winner then yelled and gestured toward the Phillies dugout. Girardi yelled back and gestured to Scherzer, seemingly challenging him to a fight.
When no substances were found, Girardi, who claimed he asked for the additional check after seeing Scherzer run his pitching hand through his sweat-soaked hair, was ejected.
“It’s within the rights and the rulebook to do that, but my personal philosophy is going to be to trust the umpires,” Maddon said before Wednesday’s game against the San Francisco Giants in Angel Stadium.
“As long as they’re visually checking on occasion like they’re supposed to, I’m not going to be any more suspicious. If there’s something you absolutely see, you may make a subtle reference to the umpires between innings.”
Though Maddon is strongly in favor of baseball eliminating the use of illegal substances, which are used to improve grip and spin rates, he said the timing of the crackdown and the burden it is placing on umpires is not ideal.
“They have a difficult enough job the way it is,” Maddon said of the umpires. “This is another layer put on their plate midstream. It’s not like they had a whole offseason to rehearse it, to think about it, to go over it. It’s brand new.”
Is Maddon concerned about opposing managers using Girardi-like tactics to get in the heads of his pitchers or throw off their rhythm in the middle of an inning?
“We’ll find out,” Maddon said. “I’d probably react the way Davey [Martinez, Nationals manager] did. It’s a difficult situation. Everyone is trying to eradicate the use of a substance that has created an edge for pitchers. I want to believe that everyone wants a level playing field. So let the umpires do their jobs.”
Angels two-way starter Shohei Ohtani will bat for himself against Giants
Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani will bat for himself in Wednesday’s 1 p.m. game against the San Francisco Giants in Angel Stadium, marking the first time in major league history that a National League team will use a designated hitter and an American League team will not.
“That’s pretty good—I didn’t put that together,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s interesting. Right on. Why not Shohei? Why not us?”
The move is a bit of a gamble because left fielder Justin Upton, pulled from Tuesday night’s game because of lower-back tightness, will not be available, leaving the Angels with a two-man bench of catcher Max Stassi and utility man Phil Gosselin.
If Ohtani is knocked out of the game early, several Angels relievers would be forced to hit until Maddon felt comfortable enough to bring Stassi and Gosselin into the game.
But with Ohtani batting .269 with a .996 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 23 homers—which ties him with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the major league lead—and 54 RBIs, it was worth the risk.
“Obviously, we’re a different lineup without him in there,” Maddon said of Ohtani. “But it’s difficult to have Shohei not hit when he’s on top of his game. … Even with a short bench, we’re going to let Shohei hit and try to figure it out along the way.”
Ohtani is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 10 starts this season, striking out 73 and walking 29 in 53 1/3 innings, and he has a 2.65 ERA and three walks in 17 innings in June. The fastball/split-fingered fastball specialist gave up one earned run in six innings in last Thursday’s win over Detroit.
Ohtani will be pitching to a powerful and patient Giants lineup that leads the major leagues with 109 homers and sees an average of 4.04 pitches per plate appearance, the most in the NL and second in baseball behind the New York Yankees (4.06).
San Francisco starter Kevin Gausman has a similar pitch mix as Ohtani, relying mostly on his four-seam fastball and split-fingered fastball to go 8-1 with a 1.51 ERA, the second-best in baseball behind New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom (0.50).
The right-hander has given up two runs or less in each of his last 11 starts and has an 0.99 ERA (six runs, 54 2/3 innings pitched) in nine road starts this season.
ANGELS LINEUP: RF Luis Rengifo, RHP Shohei Ohtani, 3B Anthony Rendon, 1B Jared Walsh, LF Taylor Ward, SS Jose Iglesias, C Kurt Suzuki, CF Juan Lagares, 2B David Fletcher.
GIANTS LINEUP: RF Mike Yastrzemski, DH Alex Dickerson, C Buster Posey, 1B Brandon Belt, SS Brandon Crawford, 2B Donovan Solano, CF Steven Duggar, 3B Mauricio Dubon, LF Mike Tauchman, RHP Kevin Gausman.
Justin Upton exits game with low back tightness as Angels lose to Giants
By the end of the second inning Tuesday night, the Angels were well on their way to a 5-0 defeat against the San Francisco Giants.
They’d already suffered another loss, too.
Left fielder Justin Upton exited the game with low back tightness, leaving after striking out in the bottom of the second.
Angels manager Joe Maddon said postgame that the team wouldn’t know more about the severity of Upton’s injury until Wednesday. His status could affect whether or not Shohei Ohtani also hits during his pitching start on Wednesday.
“We’ll wait to see how he feels when he wakes up,” Maddon said of Upton. “You sleep and sometimes it gets tighter, sometimes it loosens up.”
Upton said his back started to tighten up on him early in the game. But it wasn’t until after his second inning strikeout that he was forced to exit.
Maddon said Upton is a player who has “always had to take care of his back” and that on Tuesday “it got to the point where he could not continue.”
With two on and two outs and the Angels already down by five, Upton fouled off two pitches before swinging and missing on a slider from San Francisco Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani for the third strike.
Upton didn’t show any obvious signs of immediate pain, walking back to the dugout as normal after recording the final out. But when the Angels defense returned to the field for the top of the third, Upton didn’t emerge. Instead, Juan Lagares came trotting out late to take over in center, with Taylor Ward moving to left.
Upton has been key to the Angels success in recent weeks. After being moved into the leadoff spot in the batting order on May 23, the 33-year-old entered Tuesday batting .333 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.040 in the 24-game stretch (the Angels have gone 17-9 during that time).
Maddon had been effusive of Upton’s impact as a tone-setter for the lineup, praising the 15-year veteran’s leadership in the absence of Mike Trout and others this season.
After Upton’s exit on Tuesday, the rest of the Angels lineup couldn’t pick up the slack.
DeSclafani cruised to seven scoreless innings, retiring his final 14 batters, before the Giants (47-26) bullpen finished off the shutout, only the fourth against the Angels (36-37) this year.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney gave up five runs in six innings, suffering all his damage in the opening two frames.
With one out in the first, Mike Yastrzemski hit a full-count single before Darin Ruf lifted a fly ball that right fielder Luis Rengifo misread, the ball landing behind him for a double.
With runners on second and third, Buster Posey drove the game’s first run with a grounder. Brandon Belt made it 2-0 in the next at-bat, laying down a perfect bunt that made it all the way to the third base bag, hitting the base after Anthony Rendon had let it go in hopes it would roll foul.
Instead the inning continued, with Wilmer Flores blasting the very next pitch over the wall in left-center field for a two-run homer.
The first pitch of the second inning met the same fate, with Mauricio Dubon hammering a solo shot to center that made it 5-0.
Heaney settled down after that, getting the final 15 outs without surrendering another run. He also finished with 10 strikeouts.
“We lost the game, so I’m not terribly happy, but probably the best I’ll feel about giving up five earned in a game,” Heaney said.
With the way DeSclafani was pitching, one earned run might have been too much.
The Giants right-hander gave up only three hits and two walks while striking out nine in his 97-pitch outing.
The Angels threatened early, getting runners on second and third in each of the first two innings.
But after that, they didn’t get another runner in scoring position until the ninth.
“That’s one of those, I hate to say, ‘tip your hat’ evenings,” Maddon said. “He had everything going on.”
Why the Angels thought Double-A was the best fit for Chris Rodriguez
Why was Chris Rodriguez was sent down to Double-A instead of Triple-A to get stretched out as a starter?
“Not because of competition,” Angels manager Joe Maddon explained Tuesday. “More because of elements.
In the Triple-A West league (formerly known as the Pacific Coast League) where the Angels’ affiliate Salt Lake Bees affiliate competes, high elevations and hitter-friendly ballparks can lead to inflated offensive numbers.
The Angels’ Double-A affiliate, the Rocket City Trash Pandas, play in Double-A South with more typical conditions — something the club thought that would be more ideal for the 22-year-old rookie right-hander.
After making the MLB roster out of spring training as a reliever, Rodriguez had a 3.66 ERA in 13 appearances.
During the first month of the season, he was one of the Angels’ more consistent bullpen arms. But after returning from a shoulder injury earlier this month, he had given up four earned runs in his last four innings.
Maddon said the team had been toying with the idea of sending Rodriguez down to develop more as a starter, and that his recent drop-off made the timing right to do it this week.
Maddon said it’s possible Rodriguez could return to the big leagues later this year in either role.
“I love the kid and I love his stuff,” Maddon said. “And he probably could have worked his way through some of those issues here had we been able to give him consistent appearances. But it’s hard to do that. Long run, I think this benefits him and us.”
José Quintana headed to bullpen; Patrick Sandoval stays in Angels rotation
Angels pitcher José Quintana was activated from the injured list on Monday after missing three weeks with shoulder inflammation. That doesn’t mean, however, he’s going back into the starting rotation.
Instead, manager Joe Maddon said on Tuesday that Quintana will head to the bullpen, the Angels electing to make the left-handed veteran a reliever for now rather than alter their current six-man rotation of Shohei Ohtani, Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb and Patrick Sandoval.
Sandoval had been Quintana’s replacement, but pitched well enough (as a starter, he has a 3.13 ERA in six outings) to convince the Angels to keep him in the rotation.
“We felt like it was not wise to take Sandoval out of the rotation,” Maddon said. “We spoke with Q a couple days ago. Total team guy. Absolutely gets it ... He handled it really well.”
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Prior to his injury, Quintana had struggled in his first nine starts this season, his first year with the Angels after signing a one-year, $8 million contract as a free agent this winter.
He was 0-3 with a 7.22 ERA in 33 2/3 innings. Despite having 50 strikeouts, he was also averaging more than 1.9 walks and hits per inning. Opponents were batting .283 against him.
Quintana’s ERA, WHIP and opponent average were all career worsts.
Quintana had shown some signs of improvement, including a three-start stretch during May in which he surrendered only seven earned runs in 13 2/3 innings, before exiting a start in Oakland on May 30 early with shoulder pain.
But with how well Sandoval and the rest of the rotation has been of late — Angels starters entered Tuesday with the 11th-best ERA (4.15) in the majors since the start of June — the Angels decided to not shake up the group.
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Maddon said Quintana could be used in a variety of roles, including both “shorter spurts” and possibly the multi-inning middle relief spot that had been manned by Chris Rodriguez before he was optioned to Double-A on Monday.
Maddon said it’s possible Quintana could rejoin the rotation later this season, too.
“He still views himself as a starter, but he’s not going out there with any kind of a chip on his shoulder as far as being upset,” Maddon said, adding: “He’s not out there to be the long guy. I think you’re gonna see a little uptick in velocity because of that.”