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Angels lock arms with Mariners during national anthem in display of unity before win

Players on the Angels and Seattle Mariners lock arms on the field during the national anthem.
Players on the Angels and Seattle Mariners lock arms on the field at Angel Stadium during the national anthem before Friday night’s 3-2 win for the Angels.
(John McCoy / Getty Images)

While professional athletes across the country declined to stage games to protest racial injustice and police brutality after the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Angels were idle.

Their game against Houston on Wednesday was postponed because of Hurricane Laura. Thursday’s game was played Tuesday as part of a doubleheader.

The opportunity to join the Dodgers and other MLB clubs that refused to play passed by the Angels. But they showed solidarity on Friday before their 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Not long after a tribute to Jackie Robinson was played on the Angel Stadium videoboard, four Black players on the Angels and seven Black players on the Mariners headed to the center of the field to link arms during a recording of the national anthem.

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Justin Upton, Brian Goodwin, Jo Adell and Keynan Middleton were joined on the field by Angels teammates Mike Trout, David Fletcher and Anthony Rendon.

“We didn’t have the opportunity to do what the other teams did,” Upton said. “We did it in our own way. I think the biggest part is that we are acknowledging [the problems] and using our platform, showing some kind of unity. The other teams, we were definitely proud of those guys for standing up for what they believe in.”

Starter Andrew Heaney, preparing for a night in which he would put together his best performance of the season, watched the scene unfold from afar but was no less moved. He heard from teammates and coaches earlier in the day about their experiences and “how difficult life has been in this country for certain people.”

“I hate to see the look on my teammates’ faces after what has been happening,” said Heaney, who held the Mariners scoreless until the sixth inning. “It’s tough to see, and I hope that as a country we can start moving forward. It’s up to individual people to continue conversations and to continue broadening their mind and just being better human beings. There’s no other way to say it.

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“If you can’t say that Black lives matter, you’re in the wrong. To me, there’s right and there’s wrong. And that’s how I feel about it.”

Angels manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t know the players planned anything. Not that he minded.

“They don’t need my input right there,” Maddon said. “They’re men and they know what they want to do. They knew what had to be done. I thought what they did was perfectly choreographed, to be standing out there linked up with the No. 42 on their back. I thought that was absolutely perfect symmetry.”

The NBA, not Major League Baseball, took the lead on walkouts and utilizing its venues as polling places, making MLB appear tone deaf on Jackie Robinson Day.

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Upton and Goodwin are members of the Players Alliance, a group of more than 100 current and former Black MLB players who joined forces this summer to drive change and address inequalities within the sport. The organization announced Thursday that members would donate their salaries from games played on Jackie Robinson Day to the Alliance, which will support “efforts to combat racial inequality and aid the Black families and communities deeply affected in the wake of recent events.”

Upton last month described the Alliance as “the start of something good.”

“It’s special for us to to be able to connect with a lot of guys that you don’t see a lot throughout the game, share experiences and share beliefs and share the things that guys are doing in their communities and being able to support them in that,” Upton said. “I think it’s the start of something good for us and good for baseball. We’re definitely happy about the support we’ve gotten.”

Friday wasn’t the first time Goodwin, Upton and Middleton were involved in demonstrations. Accompanied by Noé Ramirez and Andrelton Simmons, the three knelt during the national anthem in the season opener.

Three takeaways on the Angels

1. Heaney enjoyed a bounce-back Friday, pitching 7-2/3 innings in which he gave up one run, four hits and two walks. Aided by a dominant three-pitch mix, he struck out 10 and drew misses on 23 swings.

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2. Slumping Upton also was key. He had three hits in his first three at-bats, including a double with one out in the second inning. Upton entered the game riding a season-long slump. He had one hit in his last 22 at-bats. Upton’s RBI single in the sixth gave the Angels a 2-1 lead.

3. With a runner on second and two outs, Albert Pujols lined a ground-rule double to left in the sixth inning to tie George Brett for sixth on the all-time list with 665 doubles. The hit scored Shohei Ohtani, who had stolen second.

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Key plays from the Angels’ 3-2 victory over the Mariners on Friday night.

Sandoval optioned to alternate site


A disappointing stretch of starts earned left-hander Patrick Sandoval a move to the Angels’ alternate site in Long Beach. He was optioned Friday.

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Maddon said the Angels want Sandoval and infielder Luis Rengifo, who was optioned after Tuesday’s doubleheader, to work on different areas of their game.

Sandoval imploded in his start Monday against the Astros. After a five-pitch first inning, he threw 30 pitches in a two-run, four-hit second inning. He threw 29 pitches in a third inning that he couldn’t finish, giving up three runs and three hits.

Sandoval gave up 14 earned runs and issued six walks in his last 12⅔ innings spanning three starts. Opponents hit .333 with a gaudy 1.011 on-base-plus- slugging percentage against him.

In his his last two outings, opponents hit five for eight against his changeup, which is typically his most effective pitch.

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Rengifo, who joined the team when Simmons was placed on the injured list July 28, never found a groove at the plate. The switch-hitter batted .157 with nine walks over 18 games. He enjoyed some relief when he bashed a home run 422 feet Tuesday. The solo shot to left field nearly reached the train tracks that are about 90 feet above the field at Minute Maid Park.

First baseman Jared Walsh and left-handed reliever José Quijada joined the active roster.

Short hops


Catcher Max Stassi is progressing quicker than expected after sustaining a right knee bruise and right quadriceps strain last week. He played catch at Angel Stadium on Friday. ... Right-handers Jaime Barria and Julio Teheran are candidates to take Sandoval’s rotation spot and start Monday’s series finale against the Mariners. The Angels technically have two openings in the rotation, but a day off Tuesday will allow them to get by without a fifth starter until Sept. 6.


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