Noah Syndergaard gives bullpen breather, but Angels’ offense falters in loss to Royals

Kansas City Royals' Hunter Dozier steals second ahead of a throw to Angels shortstop Andrew Velazquez.
The Kansas City Royals’ Hunter Dozier steals second base ahead of a throw to Angels shortstop Andrew Velazquez during the seventh inning Monday night at Angel Stadium. The Angels lost 6-2.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)
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Noah Syndergaard gave an overworked Angels bullpen a much-needed breather Monday night, throwing 7 1/3 innings against the Kansas City Royals after relievers had combined for 19 innings in a five-game, four-day series at Seattle.

The Angels’ offense did no such favors for Syndergaard, mustering two runs and seven hits in a 6-2 loss before 22,234 at Angel Stadium, the team’s three-game winning streak snapped by a last-place team with a 24-42 record.

An aberration this wasn’t. Mike Trout might be the hottest hitter in baseball, but an Angels offense that hit .250 with a .747 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and averaged 4.7 runs per game in April and May is hitting .202 with a league-worst .590 OPS and 207 strikeouts and averaging 2.75 runs in 20 games in June.


“We hit some balls hard — sometimes they don’t fall,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “I thought we had some good at-bats throughout. I mean, were they consistent throughout? Probably not, but we did hit a lot of balls hard tonight.”

Trout hit five home runs to help the Angels win four of five games in Seattle, and when he smoked a single to left field in the first inning off Royals left-hander Kris Bubic, who entered with an 0-4 record and 8.36 earned-run average, Nevin believed the Angels were headed for a good offensive night.

Here are all the answers to the questions you might have about joining some of the action for MLB All-Star Game week in Los Angeles.

June 22, 2022

“When Trouty hits a bullet for a hit in his first at-bat, you’re sitting here going, ‘All right, our guy came today,’ ” Nevin said. “You think the boys are going to roll tonight.”

But the Angels managed only two runs and six hits in six innings off Bubic, who struck out seven and walked two to earn his first victory, and they were unable to put a dent in the Royals’ bullpen, which covered the final three innings.

Syndergaard, who fell to 4-6 this season, did what he could to keep the Angels in the game. He was tagged for two runs in his first four pitches. Whit Merrifield led off the game with a single and Andrew Benintendi drove a two-run homer to right field for a 2-0 lead before Syndergaard blanked Kansas City on two hits from the second through the fifth.

Taylor Ward pulled the Angels even with a solo homer in the third and an RBI single in the fifth, but Nicky Lopez’s two-out, RBI double in the seventh gave the Royals a 3-2 lead and Salvador Perez knocked Syndergaard out of the game with a booming two-run homer to center field in the eighth for a 5-2 lead. A solo homer by Hunter Dozier off Angels reliever Jaime Barría made it 6-2 in the eighth.

Angels interim manager Phil Nevin talks with starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin talks with starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard during Monday’s game. Syndergaard gave up five runs in 7 1/3 innings.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

“Yeah, I felt like I was cruising for the most part, made it into the eighth,” said Syndergaard, who gave up five runs and eight hits, striking out five and walking two. “But when you look at the final line, it’s kind of whatever.”

Nevin believed there was a bigger-picture significance to Syndergaard’s effort, though. The team’s top three late-inning relievers — closer Raisel Iglesias and setup men Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup — had each pitched Saturday and Sunday and weren’t available Monday night.

“I’m not going to get into what was available [in the bullpen], what was not, but we didn’t have a lot,” Nevin said. “So for him to get into the eighth … it was gutsy. It was a veteran guy understanding what we did this weekend. For Noah to pitch that deep and protect those guys, protects his teammates, down on the ’pen tonight, was huge for us going forward in the rest of this series.”

Matt Duffy made his fifth start at third base in the seven games the Angels have played without Anthony Rendon, who underwent season-ending surgery Monday to repair a dislocated tendon in his right wrist.

Rendon, who has provided minimal return so far on the seven-year, $245-million investment the Angels made in him before 2020, also had his 2021 season cut short by a right hip injury in early July.


“Obviously, it’s disappointing news,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said before the game. “I feel really bad for him. He was really motivated to have a big season for us. It was something he tried to play through, which a lot of guys wouldn’t have, but it was too painful.”

Minasian is exploring a possible trade for a third baseman — “We’re always trying to improve, short term, long term,” he said — but the right-handed-hitting Duffy figures to get the bulk of the starts there for now, with the left-handed-hitting Tyler Wade filling in. David Fletcher would be a strong third base candidate when he returns from adductor surgery in July.

Angels star Mike Trout ties the record for most home runs in a single series, hitting his fifth home run in a 4-0 win over the Seattle Mariners.

June 19, 2022

Summer of glove

Brandon Marsh raced in and made a diving catch of Merrifield’s third-inning flare and raced back toward the warning track and made a leaping grab of Bobby Witt Jr.’s sixth-inning drive Monday night, the latest in a string of strong defensive plays by the Angels left fielder this season.

Marsh entered Monday with six defensive runs saved, according to Sports Info Solutions, tying him with Cleveland’s Steven Kwan and Minnesota’s Trevor Larnach for the major league lead among left fielders.

“It’s cool hearing that, but whether it’s two runs or 50 runs saved, we’re just trying to win ballgames,” Marsh said. “I just try to make sure I’m in the right spot, getting good reads, good jumps, taking good routes on the ball.”

Marsh has played all three outfield spots throughout his professional career, but left field is the position he has played the least. But through extensive work with outfield coach Damon Mashore, Marsh has become especially adept at going back on balls and chasing down balls toward the line and the gap.


“We work on that stuff daily, if not every other day,” Marsh said. “I can’t get complacent. I have to keep grinding, keep playing like I’m at the bottom of that list.”

Nevin said Marsh is “one of the best” defensive outfielders in the game.

“The numbers say so,” Nevin said. “The jumps he gets, the reads he gets, are outstanding. Everyone looks at the diving play, but the ball he went back on in left-center field is a very tough ball to catch. You can get turned around easily on that one. But Marshy is one of the top defensive left fielders in the game.”