Suddenly, the Angels have won four of their last five. What sparked the turnaround?

Fellow Angels high-five center fielder Mickey Moniak in the dugout
Angels center fielder Mickey Moniak is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning against the Yankees on Tuesday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Angels went through a brutal stretch in late June and early July, losing nine of 10 games before the All-Star break and losing Mike Trout to a wrist fracture — adding to a growing list of injuries the team was navigating.

Then Shohei Ohtani was removed from his start against the Houston Astros last Friday because of a lingering finger issue on his pitching hand, after a cracked nail worsened into a blister. The eventual 7-5 loss was the Angels’ sixth in a row.

Since then, the Angels recovered some ground and clawed back above .500 by winning four of their last five games, including a sweep of the New York Yankees, one of the teams ahead of the Angels in the wild-card chase.


Although the Angels entered Thursday 4½ games out of the final wild-card spot, and FanGraphs gives them a 14.3% chance to reach the postseason, there appear to be signs of life. That momentum will be tested during a nine-game road trip starting next week that includes games against Toronto (currently in a wild-card spot) and Atlanta (best record in the National League) and will run through the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

Chase Silseth gave up one run and four hits as the Angels’ stellar pitching continued in their 7-3 win for a sweep of the New York Yankees on Wednesday.

July 19, 2023

So what changed? Before the Angels take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at home starting Friday, here are three takeaways from their first six games out of the break.

The starting pitching settled down

Chase Silseth pitches for the Angels.
Angels starting pitcher Chase Silseth throws during the first inning against the Yankees on Wednesday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

There was a snag in the rotation’s collective effectiveness that created a snowball effect that impacted the bullpen, similar to what happened early in the season. But after three straight strong starts against the Yankees, the starting pitching is trending in the right direction. In the last three wins, Angels starters pitched to a 1.93 earned-run average, compared to the 7.35 ERA in the previous 13 games.

They also pitched deeper during those wins, with Griffin Canning and Chase Silseth pitching into the sixth inning and Patrick Sandoval into the eighth.

The rotation’s success was a big part of key wins through May and June. Its continued effectiveness will better complement the Angels’ offense — which has held steady despite injuries and other changes, ranking in the top 10 in MLB in runs (sixth with 485), home runs (third with 147) and OPS (fifth at .778).


The Angels’ recent two wins were encouraging, but they still face long odds. Entering Tuesday, they had an 8.3% shot at making the playoffs, according to FanGraphs.

July 18, 2023

“Our offense is doing their part,” manager Phil Nevin said. “They have been even through some struggles there. You’re gonna have little hiccups here and there. Towards the beginning of the season we lost a few; we’re gonna do that again. It’s just how you rebound from those things. It’s a very resilient room.”

The offense has picked up

Taylor Ward congratulates Mickey Moniak after a home run for the Angels.
Angels left fielder Taylor Ward congratulates Angels center fielder Mickey Moniak at the plate after a two-run home run against the Yankees on Tuesday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Angels navigated several changes to the lineup starting in late June, which was reflected in the production, as the Angels averaged a little more than four runs a game during a 1-10 stretch.

Some things have shored up with the return of shortstop Zach Neto from the injured list right out of the break, allowing for a consistent top of the lineup with Neto in the leadoff spot, Ohtani batting second, and Mickey Moniak and Taylor Ward batting third or fourth. All four have homered at least once during this homestand, and Ohtani continues to do Ohtani things — he entered Thursday leading the majors with 35 home runs.

Expect more offensive help to arrive whenever Trout, Brandon Drury (shoulder bruise) and Logan O’Hoppe (torn labrum) return. Drury is expected back soonest, possibly before the end of July. O’Hoppe and Trout could come back in August but it remains unclear.

Nevertheless, the Angels put up 26 runs against the Astros — including 13 in a wild comeback win last Saturday — and 16 against the Yankees. The mood after Wednesday’s win?


The Angels have played better recently, but an oblique strain to shortstop Zach Neto and a left pelvis fracture to infielder Gio Urshela will test the team’s depth once again.

June 16, 2023

“I don’t know about the other guys but I’m feeling pretty good after that, both sides of this whole homestand,” Ward said. “It’s really exciting.”

Can the defense stay sharp?

Zach Neto signals during an Angels game.
Angels shortstop Zach Neto signals during the game against the Astros last Saturday.
(Ryan Sun / Associated Press)

Defensive mistakes and miscues are easy to forget in a win. In a loss, like Friday’s against the Astros, they are glaring.

The Angels played pretty clean baseball against the Yankees, with just two errors in three games. One was by Neto, just his fourth in 61 games, and his return shores things up defensively thanks to his .983 fielding percentage.

Continuing to mitigate the mistakes and bounce back from them is especially important when you consider the odds the Angels are facing as they chase a playoff spot.

“Mistakes happen. I’ll never have a problem with mistakes,” Nevin said after that Friday loss. “It’s what happens after the mistakes. The next play is too damn important for our team and for the player and for our fans, quite frankly, to let those plays affect us.”