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Naughton Searching To Pluck Angels Out Of Losing Ways

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The Lefty Gets His Shot Against The AL West Leading Astros For The First Time In His Career

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout an entire Major League Baseball season ebbs and flows are bound to happen, but for the Angels, they are suffering more ebbs during this four-game losing streak. Last night’s 10-0 loss versus the Astros was the 13th shutout the offense has endured and makes the journey to finish the 2021 season with at least a .500 record a bit of a stretch. The current four-game losing streak is tied for the second-longest losing streak of the season, with the longest being five and occurring twice during the first half (May 2-6 & June 20-26). A win in game two of this four-game series would erase any thought of setting the wrong type of record in an already tough 162-game slate.

Pitching Matchup

For manager Joe Maddon, he will tab southpaw Packy Naughton for his sixth appearance (4th start) of the year. The former Virginia Tech Hokie is 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in five appearances (three starts), all against teams battling for playoff contention (Dodgers, Padres x2, Yankees and White Sox). Naughton looks to bounce back from his previous start against the Chicago White Sox (September 14), where he took the loss after failing to exit the third inning and surrendering four runs on six hits. His best start came back on September 7 in San Diego, spinning five shutout innings and tacking on five strikeouts as well.

Oddly enough, right-handed batters struggle more against Naughton than lefties. Opposing right-handed batters are hitting just .261, while left-handers are thriving at .318. This stat may factor into Maddon’s in-game decisions for the lefty vs. lefty and righty vs. righty situational pitching matchups.

For Astros manager Dusty Baker, he will send right-hander Jose Urquidy to the bump for his 18th start of the year. The Mexico native continues to thrive at the front end of the Astros rotation with a 7-3 record and 3.38 ERA in 90.2 innings pitched. However, Urquidy has battled through right shoulder discomfort all season long, finding himself on the Injured-List on two separate occasions. He faced the Halos back on May 12, tossing 3.2 shutout innings, conceding just two hits and striking out four.

Abominable RISP Numbers

As opportunity knocks at the Angles door, no one is coming in clutch to savor the moment. In four consecutive home losses, the Angels as a team are 4-for-23 with Runners in Scoring Position and have stranded 29 men on base. Looking at the bigger picture, the Halos cannot take advantage when the bases are loaded. Even though they step to the plate the third-least based on at-bats with the bases juiced (87), those opportunities have translated to only 83 runs scored, which is fifth worst in all of Major League Baseball.

The Hawaiian Keeps Flying

In limited playing time as the backup catcher, Kurt Suzuki is putting the ball in play and getting results. In his last seven games, the Cal State Fullerton alum is batting .318 (7-for-22) with 1 HR and 2 RBI. Suzuki is riding a three-game hitting streak with multi-hits in two of the three games.

Angels News & Notes

  • Shohei Ohtani’s next start is still TBD - Based on the rotation lineup, he could potentially start on Saturday vs. Seattle if he is good to go
  • By virtue of elimination, the Angels now have missed the postseason for 7 consecutive seasons