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Maddon’s Lineup Mania Proves Positive as Ohtani Makes History in Texas

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Every team needs a little change now and then. Maddon’s moves lit up the Halos offense against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night as Shohei Ohtani made MLB history.

Los Angeles Angels v Texas Rangers Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

After dropping the series opener last night, Joe Maddon took a sledgehammer to the traditional Angels lineup, and the results proved effective as the Halos secured a 7-2 victory against the Texas Rangers.

Janson Junk (3.6 ERA) led the bullpen with a fastball-heavy approach that kept the Rangers offense mostly quiet while the newly arranged Angels lineup wasted no time putting runs on the board.

Traditionally, the Halos offense falls victim to a slow offensive wakeup, which usually leaves the team frantically trying to catch up in the latter half of the ball game. However, tonight’s offense was here to play, and by the top of the 1st inning, the Halos recorded their first run as Jack Mayfield earned his 38th RBI of the season, bringing home Phil Gosselin with a sacrifice fly to secure a solid 1-0 lead.

Taylor Ward fled the hive this week, trading in his Salt-Lake Bees jersey for a starting position in center field and his performance at the plate left no doubt that he came up from the minors ready to play ball. A single hit by Ward kicked off the second inning, and Juan Lagares followed suit with another single.

Normally, a single into the outfield can advance a base runner one or two bases, but it was clear that Ward was here to prove himself as he hit the bases with extreme speed and smart base running to earn the team a 2nd run.

Rangers pitcher Taylor Hearn (4.66 ERA) shut down the offense from the 3rd to the 5th inning, but the night wasn’t over and the bats were just getting started.

After the Rangers scored two runs off of Junk in the bottom of the 4th, Junk retired the game briefly to Austin Warren (1.89 ERA) and then José Quijada (5.09 ERA) who recorded his first win of the season tonight. Mike Mayers (3.86 ERA), Steve Cishek (3.11 ERA) and Raisel Iglesias (2.65 ERA) also made appearances on the mound, and their combined control and poise kept the Rangers runs at 2 while the offense continued to catch fire.

The final line on Junk: 4.1 IP | 7 H | 2 R | 2 ER | 0 BB | 5 SO

Mayfield logged his 2nd RBI of the night in the 6th inning, scoring Shohei Ohtani and getting on base for Jared Walsh who then brought him home with a single driven into left field.

A Historic Moment:

When Ohtani crossed the plate, he achieved 100 scored runs this season. Combined with 45 home runs and 26 stolen bases, the young MVP became one of the few AL players to ever reach those statistics in a single season.

Aside from history in the making, the theme of tonight’s game was RBI madness as Lagares stepped up to the plate with his second RBI of the night that scored Kurt Suzuki. The inning closed shortly after shortstop Luis Rengifo brought Walsh home with another RBI, cementing the score at 6-2 by the bottom of the 6th.

The final run of the night came from Brandon Marsh, who made his one plate appearance count with an RBI to score Rengifo. And amid the excitement of aggressive power at the plate and smart base running, Ohtani stole his 26th base of the season.

With the hopes for a playoff postseason well beyond reach, this final week is the perfect opportunity for Maddon to play with the team in any way he can, and it looks like that is exactly what he’s going to do. Shuffling players, rewriting the lineup and trying new formulas is all part of the game, and if Maddon continues to push the boundaries with bright new ideas, fans might just see things start to catch fire like they did tonight.

After a successful night of change, the Angels will look to Alex Cobb (3.46 ERA) to keep the momentum going and close out the series with another victory. First pitch will be at 11:05 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Wednesday News & Notes:

  • Joe Maddon said that Shohei Ohtani’s pitching season is over, but he will continue to bat in the lineup.
  • Ohtani finishes the season with 130 IP, a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts.
  • Jared Walsh has hit 91 RBIs this season.
  • RHP Packy Naughton was optioned to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees today.
  • Jared Walsh made this unbelievable play today: