The Angels hit the road on Tuesday to take on the Texas Rangers, but despite all hope for a victorious night, the first game of the road trip was not a kind one as it resulted in a disappointing 5-2 loss in which the Halos offense failed to follow through after Max Stassi’s 13th career home run put them on the board with a 2-run lead.
MAXimum effort pic.twitter.com/STdzGKA2WU— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) September 29, 2021
The true excitement of the game for both teams happened in the second inning. While the Angels bats usually need a few innings to heat up, tonight proved different, and Stassi was the hero we all needed to get this game moving.
After Rangers pitcher A.J. Alexy (4.70 ERA) walked Jose Rojas, Stassi showed the opposing team exactly what home run power looks like, blasting a straight shot deep into left center field. The 2-run HR earned the Halos a solid 2-0 lead, and the offense retired from the inning with high hopes that the heat would continue. Unfortunately, the bullpen stifled that heat, and the Rangers lineup answered back with their own fire.
Packy Naughton (6.35 ERA), who set out to secure his first career win, cracked under the pressure of the Rangers offense, and the result was a deficit that the Angels never recovered from.
It’s been a winless season for Naughton so far with this being his 5th start for the bullpen.
Charlie Culberson, Jonah Heim and Andy Ibañez each earned hits off of Naughton in the 2nd, and a pair of walks for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Leody Taveras ensured that they retired the inning with 4 earned runs, leaving the Halos with a hefty 2-run deficit that they would continue to chase for the remainder of the night.
Naughton retired soon after, walking away from the field with these final stats:
2 IP | 6.35 ERA | 4 H | 4 ER | 3 BB | 0 SO
The young pitcher handed the game over to Oliver Ortega (5.63 ERA) and Andrew Wantz (5.19 ERA) who worked together beautifully to silence the opposing lineup until the bottom of the 7th inning when right fielder, Adolis García, who had already made an impression with a nearly impossible catch in right field, recorded his second RBI of the night. His single scored Ibañez, leaving the Halos with a 3-run deficit that was too much to bear.
Other than Stassi’s power performance at the plate, the Halos lineup lacked movement today. Brandon Marsh, who’s on-base percentage in the last 7 games is .490, went 0-for-4 which meant that Shohei Ohtani went to the plate every time without runners on base. At this point in the game, that’s not something that fans want to see, especially with a power hitter like Ohtani in the batter’s box because his ability to put the ball in play is what’s going to score runs with RISP. Jared Walsh, who also has a solid history against Texas with a .415 batting average, stepped up with a 2-for-4 night, but his attempts were quickly put to bed by the Rangers bullpen which deprived him of a chance to reach home.
Out of 30 at bats, the Halos walked away with 2 runs off of 4 total hits, and the missed opportunity margin found 6 runners left on base.
Defensively, David Fletcher once again reminded everyone that the Golden Glove conversation is happening, and his name should definitely be on the table.
Here's one for the David Fletcher Gold Glove Campaign.— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) September 29, 2021
Otherwise, not much going on for the #Angels, who are losing 5-2 in the 8th. pic.twitter.com/KFhyB0fhhp
While the Halos bullpen pulled it together after a rough start, the Halos lineup seemed like they couldn’t catch fire, even after Stassi put them on the path to victory early on. The good news is that there’s only one place to go from here, and that’s up — back into the win column. The last series opener against the Texas Rangers may have lacked that Halo fire, but there’s always tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, tune in at 5:05 p.m. as your Halos prepare once again to take on the Rangers for the second game in this 3-game series. Right handed pitcher Janson Junk (3.75 ERA) will get the start for the bullpen as he looks to secure his first victory of the season.