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Halos open the Freeway Series with a victory in extra innings

Newbie pitcher Austin Warren followed Patrick Sandoval’s lead with impressive control that helped the offense secure the winning runs.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing beats kicking off a Freeway Series, but while fans definitely readied themselves with certain expectations like seeing Albert Pujols for the first time in Dodger Blue and catching the interesting matchup between Patrick Sandoval and David Price, what they didn’t expect was an extra inning. However, the Halos had no intention of going down without a fight, and the fire of the final inning led to a close 4-3 victory.

The Halos flew back to Los Angeles with high hopes after claiming three wins against the Texas Rangers in a four game series, and despite a bad case of cold bats and a tentative start on the mound for Patrick Sandoval, the Angels came out on top against the Dodgers on Friday with the help of a solid bullpen, led by Sandoval and anchored by José Quijada, Sam Selman and the most controlled relief pitcher of the evening - Angels newbie Austin Warren. Of course, Raisel Iglesias also made an appearance to clean up the tenth and secure the win after allowing 1 run, 2 hits and 1 strikeout.

Sandoval took to the mound in the first inning with slow pitching, giving away balls like he was afraid to hit the strike zone against a powerful Dodger lineup, and that skittish approach opened the door for former Angel Albert Pujols to paint the scoreboard with an RBI to bring home Mookie Betts. While it hurt the Halos to lose the lead, the score was a wake up call for Sandoval, and his performance only picked up from there.

Sandoval kept the next two innings clear while the Angels bats warmed up, but not before Mookie Betts brought home AJ Pollock in the fourth. The 2-0 lead was enough to activate the dugout with José Iglesias putting the Halos on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the fifth and Jack Mayfield following suit in the sixth with another solo home run. Unfortunately, Iglesias and Mayfield’s runs were not enough to coat the sting of missing powerhouses Mike Trout, Jared Walsh and Shohei Ohtani in the batter’s box.

However, despite the lukewarm performance of the lineup, Sandoval held down the bullpen, successfully leaving multiple Dodgers on base and finding his way out of several sticky situations that threatened the close game. The 24-year-old pitched strong for 5 innings, handing over the game to Jose Quijada before retiring with a 3.39 ERA, 7 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. Quijada left the sixth inning with a confident shutout that created an opportunity for the Halos to get the lead in the seventh against Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly (3.34 ERA).

After 2 outs and a walk for Iglesias, the Dodgers called to the bullpen for Blake Treinen (2.15 ERA) while Joe Maddon started making moves in the lineup. Fans were teased with a Shohei Ohtani plate appearance in the seventh, but a third groundout from Juan Lagares shut down the inning, and it was Brandon Marsh who picked up batting in the eighth, not Shohei.

The team welcomed the tenth inning with Jo Adell leading off on second base, and it was Iglesias who scored Adell with a hard hit to right field. All this before Joe Maddon gave everyone what they were waiting for - a ticket to the SHO. Shohei Ohtani made his first plate appearance, but he was immediately walked, and while Halos fans might have complained about missing #17 bat against Dodger pitcher Garrett Cleavinger (2.55 ERA), the team came in clutch, scoring one more run before trusting Raisel Iglesias (3.06 ERA) to close the game and leave the field with another win under his belt.

The Angels are now 6 games back from second AL Wild Card spot with a 56-54 record. The Halos will take on the Dodgers in the second game of the Freeway Series tomorrow at 6:10 PST.