I don’t even think the Angels saw this one coming. A lineup that has been decimated by injury, unable to score with runners in scoring position and has largely been inconsistent wasn’t supposed to do much against a World Series contender in the Chicago White Sox.
Alas, the Halos slayed the giant, beating Chicago 9-3; taking two out of three in the Windy City and taking the season series, five games to two.
Despite the offensive explosion, the story of the game is RHP Alex Cobb’s return to the mound for the Angels. Cobb was on a pitch limit, but made the most of his start. He finished with a final line of 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB and 5 Ks on 66 pitches. The win put him at 8-3 on the season and he lowered his ERA to 3.59.
Cobb’s five innings backed up an Angels offense that came to play.
SS Luis Rengifo continued his hot-hitting amid some...um...interesting charges in his native Venezuela. He got the scoring started in the second inning with a two-run blast that gave the Angels a lead they would not relinquish. Rengifo is hitting .318 in his last seven games with three home runs and seven RBIs.
In the fourth inning, he reached on a fielder’s choice error that loaded the bases for 3B Jack Mayfield. Mayfield responded by clearing the bases with a line-hugging double into left field. The Angels had struggled lately with the bases juiced, unable to score any runs. Mayfield’s knock was a very welcome change of pace.
He was able to advance to third on a throwing error as the Angels threatened for more. An overall sloppy game by Chicago, the White Sox finished with three errors on the day.
Immediately after Mayfield’s double, RF José Rojas sent a missile into right field for a 2-RBI home run. The homer off the bat of the recent call-up put the Angels up comfortably at 7-0.
A big blast from the Anaheim native! pic.twitter.com/sUc4Mkquls— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) September 16, 2021
Chicago starter RHP Reynaldo López had been really good for the White Sox, entering the game with a 2.05 ERA in 44 IP, but was chased after four innings. He finished with a final line of 4 IP, 7 H, 7 R (6 ER), 1 BB, 7 Ks and 2 HRs.
The Halos tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning after a Jared Walsh RBI single that scored Shohei Ohtani and a Mayfield RBI groundout. Mayfield finished the day with four RBIs.
The White Sox threatened to make things interesting when RHP Junior Guerra entered the game in the sixth inning. Guerrra has been a major weak link of the bullpen this season and he once again struggled in Thursday’s outing. Given a nine-run lead, Guerra could only go one inning and allowed three runs on four hits while walking two. He gave up an RBI single to former MVP José Abreu, breaking the shutout. Guerra faced three batters in the seventh inning but got no outs before he was removed in favor of RHP Jimmy Herget. The 28-year-old reliever let two inherited runners score via a single and sac-fly, but ultimately got out of a sticky situation with two big strikeouts to cap the score at 9-3.
Things got testy in the ninth inning when Ohtani was hit by a pitch by RHP Mike Wright Jr. More on that in the notables...
Angels RHP Oliver Ortega pitched a scoreless ninth and the Halos picked up their 72nd win of the season to move to 72-74.
- T-2nd Inning: Rengifo 2-RBI HR (5) (LAA 2 - CWS 0)
- T-4th Inning: Mayfield 3-RBI double (LAA 5 - CWS 0), Rojas 2-RBI HR (5) (LAA 7 - CWS 0)
- T-5th Inning: Walsh RBI single (LAA 8 - CWS 0), Mayfield RBI force out (LAA 9 - CWS 0)
- B-6th Inning: Abreu RBI single (LAA 9 - CWS 1)
- B-7th Inning: Luis Robert RBI single (LAA 9 - CWS 2), Abreu RBI sacrifice fly (LAA 9 - CWS 3)
- W: Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA)
- L: López (3-3, 3.00 ERA)
Player of the Game
The offense got several different contributors so we’re going to go with Cobb in his sharp return.
Cobb was activated off the IL and made his first start since July 23. Manager Joe Maddon said before the game that Cobb was limited to 70-75 pitches and that a 5-inning start “would be outstanding.” The righty obviously delivered in spades.
Cobb has been on the IL since July 30 with right wrist inflammation and has had a few setbacks despite having a clean MRI. Having a solid season with the Angels where he has emerged a clubhouse leader, Cobb is a free agent this upcoming season and has earned a respectable multi-year deal from a team, whether it be the Halos or elsewhere.
Play of the Game
- On offense, Rojas’ home run was a nice call-up gift and one that gave the Angels plenty of breathing room.
- On defense, Fletcher continued to provide Gold Glove caliber work at second base even during his slump at the plate.
The Angels return home after an eight game road trip for the final homestand of the season beginning Friday against the Oakland A’s. The A’s are currently three games back of the AL Wild Card and the Halos have a prime opportunity to play spoiler to their Bay Area rival. First pitch of the three-game set will be at 6:38 p.m. tomorrow at the Big A.
- As mentioned earlier, Ohtani reached on the ninth via a HBP by ChiSox RHP Wright Jr. After deliberation, the umpiring crew tossed Wright Jr. after agreeing he hit Ohtani intentionally as retaliation for Chicago hit batters in Game 1. White Sox manager Tony La Russa was tossed shortly after. In the postgame pressers, each manager had a different take. La Russa claimed it was an accident while Maddon said he believed it was intentional. Wright Jr. had been wild on Tuesday, but his pitches against Ohtani on Thursday were all inside and appeared to be intentional to some. The intent is obviously up for debate so you be the judge:
- Ohtani was scratched from his start Friday due to a sore arm. There is a chance the Angels shut him down from pitching the rest of the season. Maddon also alluded to giving him some off days as the Japanese star is clearly struggling at the plate over the last month. Ohtani is in the thick of an AL MVP race many feel he has already locked up.
To clarify, they could still shut him down, but right now they haven't decided that. They will see how he feels over the next few days.— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) September 16, 2021
Maddon also said they've considered giving him a break at the plate because of his slump.
- David Fletcher was moved out of the leadoff spot in favor of Brandon Marsh. Batting second, the move didn’t change anything for Fletcher’s continued slide. He went 0-5 on the day and is now hitting .167 in his last 30 games with a .216 OBP. Once hitting well over .300 in the heart of the season, Fletcher has dropped to a .275 batting average.