After splitting the two-game series against San Diego, the Angels have seemingly found a winning formula back in Anaheim.
The Halos, currently in the middle of a nine-game homestand, are 5-2 since Aug. 27 and are looking for the series victory over Texas this afternoon.
The Angels made some significant roster moves over the past week and (unsurprisingly) there is more injury news to report. Additionally, Shohei Ohtani keeps doing Shohei Ohtani things so there’s plenty to talk about as the Halos look to keep the momentum going into the second week of September.
New York City Serenade
It was by no means a perfect series, but the three-game set against the New York Yankees was exciting and a nice surprise. The Yankees came into town not far removed from a 13-game winning streak and looking to solidify their postseason chances. The Angels had other plans.
- On Monday, Aug. 30, the Halos took Game 1, 8-7 in a back-and-forth thriller. The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, but the Angels struck for five in the fourth inning, most coming from a grand slam by new Angels shortstop Jack Mayfield (more on that later).
The Yankees tied the game up in the fifth but Ohtani launched his 42nd home run of the season in the bottom half of the inning against former Angel Andrew Heaney to give the Angels the 6-5 lead. Juan Lagares, who went 3-4 on the night with a pair of RBIs, tripled in a run in the sixth to expand the lead for the Halos. The Yankees once again tied the game in the seventh inning, but Lagares put the Angels up for good in the eighth with an RBI single to finish the scoring at 8-7.
There are two things that are guaranteed in life: Shohei homers and… that’s it, it’s just Shohei homers. pic.twitter.com/OddhX8J8ro— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 31, 2021
- The next night on Tuesday, Ohtani showed off his wheels in the Angels’ 6-4 victory over New York. Ohtani stole two bases, including one of home.
After the game, 1B Jared Walsh said, “I looked up and saw Sho was sliding into home. It was cool. Just another night of Hohei doing something amazing. Watching Sho every day is a treat.”
After going down 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Walsh and the Angels responded in the bottom half of the inning with a three-run laser into right field for a 3-1 lead.
The Yankees did not go away, bringing the score to 3-2 in the top of the fifth after a Gary Sanchez home run, but, like they often did in this series, the Halos responded immediately in the bottom half via a two-RBI base hit by Phil Gosselin and the Ohtani steal of home. The Yankees very nearly tied the eighth after cutting the lead to 6-3, but a Giancarlo Stanton fly ball just died at the warning track in left field. The whole stadium thought it was going out, but the damage was limited to a sacrifice fly and the Halos once again were able to hang on for the win.
- In the Wednesday game, Yankees RHP Gerrit Cole absolutely dominated the Angels in a 4-1 Halo loss. Cole finished with four hits and an earned run allowed in 7.0 innings to lower his ERA to 2.73. He rendered the Angels lineup futile, striking out an astounding 15 batters. Regardless, it was a successful series for the Angels.
- Some series notables: The Yankees grounded into seven double plays during the three-game series and the Angels bullpen was able to throw 12.1 innings of scoreless baseball, which is a major victory given the state of Angels pitching.
stealing hearts and stealing home pic.twitter.com/SkVFUZTKye— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) September 1, 2021
Messing with Texas...Again
The Halos are taking on the Texas Rangers this weekend in a four-game series.
- On Friday, Ohtani dazzled in a 3-2 win. On the mound, the two-way superstar threw a career-high 117 pitches and hit over 100 mph twice. Ohtani finished with two earned runs on seven hits allowed, two walks, one home run allowed (the only runs he gave up on the night) and eight strikeouts in 7.0 innings. The offense did just enough to move Ohtani to 9-1 and a 2.97 ERA.
- Yesterday, Ohtani showed no fatigue by launching the game-winning three-run home run in the sixth inning. The homer was his league-leading 43rd of the season and moves him just four short of tying Troy Glaus’ Angels single-season HR record.
On the mound, José Suarez pitched the game of his life. He finished the complete game, allowing only five hits, one run in the ninth, issued no walks and struck out eight on 100 pitches. It was the first time in his career he finished six innings. The young 23-year-old has had flashes of success this season, none more obvious than his outing Saturday night. The 4-1 win moved him to 6-7 with a 3.74 ERA.
The Angels enter game three of the series and 137 of the season at 68-68, .500 once again.
Roster Moves (AKA J. Iglesias is Gone)
- Luis Rengifo and Oliver Ortega were called up by the Angels on Sept. 1, but the big move so far this month was the release of SS José Iglesias on Friday. Acquired from the Orioles in a trade last year, Iglesias put up a mild .259/.295/.375 with a .670 OPS. Joe Maddon had recently opted to play Mayfield at the position and it appears Rengifo will get reps there as well going forward. With diminishing playing time, the decision to release Iglesias isn’t too surprising but the timing is a bit odd.
Regardless, the question now turns to what the Angels may do in the offseason to address the shortstop hole. Do they look internally or do they try to acquire a free agent? The list of SS free agents this year is stacked: Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story and Corey Seager highlight perhaps the deepest free agent shortstop class ever. I’m sure this will be a topic of discussion heading into the Winter Meetings.
- José Quintana (6.75 ERA with the Angels) was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants on Monday. Best of luck to them with that...he balked in a run Saturday against the Dodgers.
- The Angels called up Janson Junk on Sept. 3. Aside from having an awesome name, the RHP notably came close to throwing a perfect game this past week with Double-A Rocket City. The Halos acquired Junk from the Yankees in the Heaney trade and he is currently listed as the Angels’ No. 22 prospect by MLB Pipeline.
- OF Justin Upton is apparently hurt again. He was scratched from Saturday’s game against Texas with back pain. He is listed as day to day.
- RHP Alex Cobb threw a live bullpen session on Saturday. If he feels good after a simulated game, he could make a return to the rotation before the season’s end. Cobb has been on the IL since Jul. 30 and strangely has no structural damage in his injured wrist.
- LHP Reid Detmers confirmed he and RHP Austin Warren were sidelined with COVID-19. Detmers returned from quarantine on Sept. 3 but Warren is still in Baltimore. Similarly, RHP José Marte was quarantined in Williamsport, Pa. due to COVID-19 but returned to Anaheim on Sept. 3.
- Mike Trout is still out and we’re all still sad. Maddon acknowledged there is a chance the Angels will shut Trout down for the season.
- Before the game in Williamsport, I asked rookie Jo Adell about any childhood influences he had in the game of baseball. Here’s his answer:
- Ohtani is REALLY good at home: