Although it might be very difficult for the Angels to top their late-game heroics from last night’s series-opening contest against the Tigers, they find themselves right back at it again on Wednesday with a chance to once again get back up to .500 on the season with another win.
Happy Shohei Day!— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 18, 2021
The Halos definitely have the right man for the job going in this one as well, as Shohei Ohtani is set to make his 18th start of the season looking to continue what has been an excellent stretch of games on the mound for him. In his five starts since failing to make it out of the first inning at Yankee Stadium on June 30, Ohtani has pitched to a 1.69 ERA in 32 innings while striking out 29 batters and walking just four. These games haven’t been cakewalks either, as two of them came against some of the top run-scoring teams in the Blue Jays and Red Sox and another against a current playoff team in the Athletics.
Ohtani also had success against the Tigers on the mound earlier this season, tossing six innings of one-run ball with just five hits allowed and five strikeouts in his start against them back on June 17. His success during that outing came primarily on the back of his slider, which he threw a season-high 42 percent of the time while getting 11 called strikes and a ton of weak contact with it. Given the success he had with it back then, look for Ohtani to get it involved early and often in this one.
Opposite Ohtani for Detroit will be second-year lefty Tarik Skubal, who did not face the Angels back in that four-game series in June but is coming into Wednesday’s game on a pretty solid run of his own. In his last two starts against Boston and Baltimore, Skubal tossed 11 consecutive scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and a walk in both games while striking out a combined 10 hitters. These outings lowered his ERA on the season to a respectable 4.10, which is the lowest that it’s been for him since all the way back in April.
Skubal’s recent run might be a bad sign when you consider the Angels’ recent struggles with the bats, but the lineup did show some signs of life at the end of yesterday’s game. After managing just two runs through the first eight innings on Tuesday, the bats finally got it together in the 9th against All-Star closer Gregory Soto, capped off by a dramatic grand slam off the bat of Jo Adell.
Still not over Jo Adell's first Major League grand slam #WeBelieve x #UltraMoment pic.twitter.com/hmIApMb8Vl— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 18, 2021
When it was all said and done, the Halos scored six runs on four hits and three walks, showing a combination of pop and plate discipline that has been largely absent for a while now. Ohtani will more than likely keep them in the game on the mound, so if the bats can roll this offensive outburst over into today, they’ll be in good shape for this one. This is a big if, though, and one that will be answered one way or another here soon.
Angels News and Notes
- In surprising news, the Angels placed starter Patrick Sandoval on the injured list today with what was described as a left lumbar spine stress reaction. Joe Maddon said there’s a chance that this ends Sandoval’s season prematurely and that there’s no timeline for a return in the event that he is able to pitch again this year. Jose Quintana will be re-entering the rotation in Sandoval’s absence and will start tomorrow’s series finale against the Tigers
- Sandoval is the latest in a quite a few injuries to Angels starters recently, as he joins Alex Cobb, Griffin Canning and Chris Rodriguez on the injured list
- In corresponding moves, the Angels recalled both Aaron Slegers and Andrew Wantz from AAA Salt Lake and optioned James Hoyt.
- In more positive injury news, Maddon said that Mike Trout did more work on the field today and felt good afterwards. He also said that they’re not quite at the point of sending him on a rehab assignment, but they’re trying to get there soon.