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ICYMI: Ohtani finds success at leadoff, a heavyweight matchup, Houston rolls into town and injury news

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After another eventful week, the Angels find themselves at .500...again.

MLB: Game One-Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Judging from the “warm” reception current Toronto Blue Jay George Springer got from the Halo faithful, it’s safe to assume the boos will ring loud this weekend as Houston visits for a three game series. This week provided the Angels with some wins (and some losses), injury news on Trout, Rendon and Cobb, as well as a couple roster moves. Let’s jump into it before the Angels take on the division leader.

This Week’s Series

  • The Angels played Albert Pujols and the Dodgers last weekend. Some stuff happened during the Sunday game. We’re not going to talk about it...
  • The Halos split the doubleheader against Toronto on Tuesday, taking the first game 6-3 and losing the second 0-4. Justin Upton looked to have broken out of his slump in the first game, going 2-4 with 2 RBI. However, he returned to said-slump on Thursday, going 0-4 with 5 LOB in the Angels’ 6-3 win. Ohtani hit in the leadoff spot starting the second game on Tuesday and through Thursday. He went .300 and hit his MLB-leading 38th home run of the season on Wednesday. The homer was his first since July 28.
  • The battle between AL MVP contenders was surely won by Ohtani this week. Although Ohtani wasn’t at his best during the duration of the series, he outperformed and was more electric than the other MVP candidate, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. “MVP” chants could be heard by both Angels and Blue Jays fans for their respective player, but only Ohtani had MVP moments with the home run on Wednesday (to tie the game at the time) and the strong pitching performance on Thursday. In the four games, Guerrero hit .133 with one RBI (a base hit) and seven strikeouts. Obviously, in terms of the grand scheme of things, this series means very little regarding MVP voting. It does, however, lend itself to the national perception that Ohtani is favored to take home the award at the end of the season.
  • The Angels got obliterated by Toronto Wednesday night 10-2 in a game where George Springer milked his two home runs and had fist-raising reactions to crowd boos and “cheater” chants. He went 0-4 the next night with two strikeouts and visible frustration. Springer, of course, was a member of the Astros team that admitted to cheating via video cameras and trash cans to steal signs. Which leads us to...
  • The ‘Stros are making their first trip to Angel Stadium this season at full capacity. The Angels are 3-6 against Houston on the year and will face ex-Angel Zack Greinke, RHP Luis Garcia and RHP Lance McCullers Jr. in the three game series. Houston comes in leading the AL West with a record of 68-46 and probably lead Major League baseball with the most minutes of being booed by fans. If Springer’s reception is any indication of what we’re going to see this series, expect loud jeers, a lot of passion and an inflatable trash can or two. The Dodgers are on the road this weekend so we may see some blue in the stands for this series, as well.

Injury News

  • Anthony Rendon said his hip injury had been bothering him for most of the season. He said, “It just felt like I had no legs.” He struggled fielding and hitting, citing pain in his hip when he rotated. “It just felt weak,” he added. Rendon said that he believed the hip injury was the primary reason for the rest of his non-contact injuries. In only 58 games this season, he hit .240/.329/.382 with six home runs and 34 RBIs. Out for the rest of this season, the Angels are optimistic Rendon can return for the start of the 2022 season.
  • General manager Perry Minasian said the team will not rush Trout back, nor will it shut him down for the rest of the season. Trout has been on the injured list since May 18, and his calf strain may be more severe than either he or the medical staff have let on (he’s been out for over 12 weeks). The question of shutting Trout down for the rest of the season isn’t completely silly, as a healthy roster and pitching upgrades in the bullpen and rotation (in this case, addition by subtraction) can make the Angels viable playoff contenders next season. One must wonder what risking Trout aggravating his injury in a season where the Angels are 7.5 back of a playoff spot is worth. Regardless, Minasian’s comments disregard the notion that Trout will be limited when deemed healthy enough to return and so it is likely that we’ll see the three-time AL MVP return at some point this season.
  • RHP Alex Cobb’s wrist has not responded well to treatment, per Joe Maddon. There is no structural damage, but add Cobb to the list of Angels who didn’t respond well to treatment and had their return delayed.
  • RHP Griffin Canning suffered a low back fracture and is out for the year. Placed on the 60-day IL, Canning was coming off a rough season where he posted a 5-4 record and 5.60 ERA with 39 runs allowed in 62.2 innings pitched. Sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake on July 3, his place in the Angels 5/6-man rotation next season isn’t a given and a lengthy rehab and minor league stint may be in the cards.
MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Roster Moves

  • All-Star first baseman Jared Walsh came off the IL on Wednesday after being out of action since July 27 with a right intercostal strain. He struggled in the Wednesday game but contributed two RBI on Thursday.
  • RHP Steve Cishek was reinstated from the bereavement list on Thursday.
  • RHPs Chris Rodriguez and Aaron Slegers and LHP Packy Naughton were optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake this week. Rodriguez has been a young standout this season and his name is one worth watching as the season closes out and further roster moves are made.

Fun Tidbit

  • The first game of the doubleheader against Toronto on Tuesday was a makeup game from April 11. Because of this, the Blue Jays were the home team at Angel Stadium. The scoreboard reflected this (depicted below), spelling “favorite” how it’s spelled in Canada: “favourite”. The word reverted back to “favorite” when the Angels went back to being the home team.