The changing of the guard can sometimes be hard to watch. Tonight, it was beautiful.
Taylor Ward, the Angels 2015 1st round draft pick, went 2-3 with a walk and an RBI in his major league debut. His first, a double to right, gave the Angels a lead they would never relinquish.
Ward, a Jerry Dipoto draftee, used a smooth inside-out approach every at-bat to great avail, and it was refreshing to watch, especially on a team with pull-happy Albert Pujols. After his first at-bat, Ward took a four-pitch walk, then singled to right field and flew out to right field.
Although Dipoto drafted Ward, Taylor’s dad was very effusive in giving praise to Billy Eppler when interviewed by Kent French, stating that the move “jumpstarted” Ward’s career and made this amazing day possible. The combined effort of the two GMs may mean that the Angels have the third baseman of the future, although Ward was not tested much in the field.
The contact play worked one of three times. In the second, Eric Young Jr. grounded one right to Cory Spangenberg, who fumbled the ball, and a run scored. The other two times. Jaime Barria (remember, pitchers hit in the National League) grounded balls right to infielders and didn’t pick up any RBIs for his efforts.
In the fifth, Justin Upton bashed another home run.
The corner outfielders are en fuego. The outfield we need (and the one we deserve) is nearly here.
Jaime Barria pitched well through five innings, allowing just one run. Mike Scioscia continues to manage Barria’s innings. A slew of relievers followed but got the job done. (except Hansel Robles. He’s not hot right now).
In a throwaway moment in the game, Gubi (happy birthday!) and Padres color man Mark Grant exchanged places for the entire third inning. Victor Rojas and Grant had extreme chemistry (not just chemistry, extreme chemistry). They had things to say, played off each other, and regaled the fans with tales of the good ol’ days. I found myself a little sad when Gubi came back at the beginning of the fourth.
Regardless, the night belongs to Ward, and he should celebrate with a nice easy Panther poll win. For after all, the guard is changing. And the Angels want to be on the right side of it.
Panther of the Game?
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Taylor "Draft Day" Ward