The Angels finished off a sweep of the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon to salvage a 5-5 homestand, but not before a bullpen meltdown threatened to ruin the whole thing.
Taylor Ward had a huge day offensively, hitting a three-run home run in the first inning and a two-run single in the fifth, with a double in between. The five runs batted in are a career high for Ward, and most by an Angels player this season.
Ward has benefited directly from Albert Pujols getting released, starting 20 of the last 21 days. It’s been a struggle so far, with Ward hitting just .227/.288/.455 even after Wednesday’s outburst, but he’s heating up, 8-for-22 (.364) with two home runs and two doubles over his last six games.
All that offense had the Angels up 9-1 after five innings, and even 9-3 to start the eighth inning, but then things began to fall apart.
Left-hander Tony Watson retired only one of his five batters faced, allowing a walk, a home run, and two singled before getting pulled. Mike Mayers didn’t fare much better, allowing two run-scoring doubles to his three batters faced, pulling Texas within a run.
Enter Raisel Iglesias, with the tying run in scoring position and two outs in the eighth. He got Nick Solak to ground out to end the inning, but then Nate Lowe singled to start the ninth, putting the tying run on base anew.
That’s when Iglesias went to work, striking out Adolis Garcia and Joey Gallo on three pitches each, then throwing two balls to Khris Davis before striking him out too.
But the near disaster highlighted a problem for the Angels this season, a bullpen whose 5.03 ERA is fifth-worst in the majors, along with a 4.90 FIP that’s third-worst. They’ve been even worse in May, with a 5.72 ERA this month.
The Angels hit the road for a four-game weekend set in Oakland beginning Thursday night. Shohei Ohtani starts against Chris Bassitt in the series opener.