Jared Walsh continues torrid stretch with a grand slam in Angels’ win over Rangers
Jared Walsh was a 39th-round pick in 2015, a college first baseman who gradually rose through the Angels’ farm system and arrived in Anaheim without the hype or seven-figure signing bonus attached to younger teammate Jo Adell, a first-round pick who signed for $4.377 million in 2017.
“I’ll never forget it: $3,000,” Walsh said, when asked how much he signed for out of Georgia. “It paid for an offseason full of workouts, so it went to good use.”
Walsh isn’t the most highly touted first-year player in his dugout — that honor clearly belongs to Adell, the five-tool outfielder — but he’s the only one who might garner American League rookie of the year votes.
Walsh continued a torrid three-week stretch with his first career grand slam to lead the Angels to an 8-5 victory over the Texas Rangers in Angel Stadium on Monday.
After a horrendous start to the 2020 season, Angels outfielder Justin Upton is finishing strong and hopes the success carries over into 2021.
Walsh turned a 4-3 fourth-inning lead into an 8-3 advantage when he crushed a 3-and-1 fastball from Rangers right-hander Kyle Gibson, the ball leaving his bat at 110 mph and traveling 450 feet to center field to cap a seven-run rally.
“I’m telling you, it’s not a fluke,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of the tape-measure blast. “He’s that good. His hands are that strong, and the way he starts the bat ... he hit [36 homers] in triple A last year, so he knows how to do that. When he sees his pitch, he’s not missing.”
The left-handed-hitting Walsh, 27, opened the season with the Angels but spent most of August at the team’s alternate training site. He was recalled Aug. 28 but was hitless in his first 13 at-bats.
His offensive fortunes turned with the calendar. Since the start of September, Walsh is batting .375 (24 for 64) with an AL-leading .844 slugging percentage and 1.238 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
He has hit safely in 16 of 17 games this month, with eight homers — seven coming in his last 12 games — four doubles, one triple and 23 RBIs.
“It’s been really exciting and something you dream about your whole life,” Walsh said of his three-week tear. “I’m trying not to get too sentimental. I’ll wait until the offseason to do that. But I’m just enjoying every day that I get to play because it’s really special.”
The Angels trailed 3-1 when Anthony Rendon singled and Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton walked to load the bases with no outs in the fourth.
Julio Teheran struggles and makes an early exit, and isn’t happy about it, as the Angels give up five home runs in a 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Rendon was forced out at home on Taylor Ward’s fielder’s-choice grounder, but Max Stassi lined a two-run single to left for a 3-3 tie, and Andrelton Simmons followed with an RBI single to make it 4-3. The Angels loaded the bases when Texas shortstop Anderson Tejeda couldn’t cleanly field David Fletcher’s grounder up the middle.
Walsh worked a favorable count before hitting his homer, the eighth grand slam the Rangers have allowed this season.
“Yeah, I had a feeling it was gone — I probably would have looked like an idiot if it had not gone out,” Walsh said. “I got a fastball over the plate. I was in a little bit of an advantage count, so I was looking for it and was on time for it.”
The slam kept the Angels’ slim playoff hopes alive and made a winner out of Dylan Bundy, who allowed three earned runs and five hits in five innings, striking out three and walking two to improve to 6-3 with a 3.29 ERA.
Reliever Mike Mayers retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth innings for his second save and has now retired 41 of the last 44 batters he faced.
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