After putting together two straight all-around team victories to start the weekend against the Rangers, the Angels could not keep the good mojo going on Sunday afternoon, dropping their matinee contest by a final of 7-3 thanks mainly to some early missed opportunities and unforced errors that dug them too big of a hole to get out of.
The Halos handed the ball to the debuting Janson Junk to start Sunday’s game, and the rookie showed some moxie early into his first major-league outing. After a pair of base hits from Leody Taveras and Isiah Kiner-Falefa put the first two runners of the game on board, Junk swiftly worked out of his own jam by getting the dangerous Adolis Garcia to fly out and Nathaniel Lowe to ground into a double play turned nicely by Luis Rengifo and David Fletcher.
The bottom half of the first frame presented an early chance to provide Junk with some run support. With two outs in the inning, Phil Gosselin, Jack Mayfield and Jo Adell all reached on infield singles off of starter Taylor Hearn to load the bases for Max Stassi, but the Angels catcher flew out to end the threat with no damage done.
Junk’s first hiccup came shortly after this missed chance, with D.J. Peters leading off the top of the second with a home run to dead center field on a fastball that caught too much of the plate. The rookie would go on to retire the next three batters (the last of which was his first career strikeout) to get out of the inning, but not before the Halos found themselves with their first deficit of the series.
First career strikeout for Janson Junk! pic.twitter.com/WN5Ofth0Yf— Halos Heaven (@halosheaven) September 5, 2021
The third inning was the one that really put a damper on Junk’s debut, though to little fault of his own. After a single by Kiner-Falefa and a walk by Garcia put two runners on with two outs, Junk appeared to get out of things by inducing what probably should’ve been an inning-ending ground ball off the bat of Lowe. Rengifo sailed the throw to first which allowed a run to score and extended the inning, though, and one pitch later, Peters got Junk again on a hanging breaking ball for his second longball of the game. By the time the frame ended, the Rangers put four runs on the board, all of which were unearned.
Junk’s day ended the next inning after a two-out base hit, leaving his final line at six hits and one earned run allowed in 3.2 innings pitched with two strikeouts. All things considered, it was a decent enough debut for the rookie, who could potentially get another start sometime in the near future given the current state of the rotation.
On the other side of the ledger, Hearn started to settle in after his early close call, getting through the next two frames while allowing just one hit. It wasn’t until the 4th that the Angels started to chip away at their five-run deficit, with Jo Adell getting the team on the board with a 428-foot blast to left center field for his second home run of the year. The Rangers tacked on two runs after this via a bases-loaded walk by Jonah Heim and an RBI base hit by Kiner-Falefa, but Adell responded in his very next at-bat by shooting a 106-miles-per-hour line drive off of the wall in right field for his second dinger of the game and his second-career multi-home run game.
This brought the Angels deficit back down to four, and they had a couple of different chances to cut into it even further as the game moved into the later innings. After walks by Shohei Ohtani and Adell put two runners on with two outs in the 8th, Stassi came up with a chance to make things interesting. He was rung up on a very questionable full-count pitch, though, stopping the threat dead in its tracks. A similar situation arose in the 9th after a Rengifo single and a Fletcher walk, but Ohtani struck out to end yet another promising opportunity and the game itself at a final of 7-3.
With the loss, the Angels fell back below the .500 mark with a record of 68-69. They’ll try again to win the series against the Rangers and get back to that mark in tomorrow evening’s finale, where they’ll send Jaime Barria to the mound opposite A.J. Alexy at 6:07 PM PST.
- Despite the loss, one very big positive to come out of Sunday’s game was the great debut of Kyle Tyler. The 24-year-old had to wait a whopping eight days since his callup on August 28 to finally get into a game, but he did not disappoint when he finally did, tossing three scoreless innings in relief and looking sharp while doing it.
First career strikeout for Kyle Tyler comes on the high heat pic.twitter.com/wMY1a65D0T— Halos Heaven (@halosheaven) September 5, 2021
- Tyler went six up, six down in the 7th and 8th innings, and he stranded a two-out double in the 9th to cap off his very nice day. He was the 9th pitcher to make their big-league debut for the Angels this year, and based on how he pitched today, he may be around for a while longer.
- Tyler’s debut was noteworthy for another reason, as he became the 61st person to appear in a game for the Halos this year, which is the highest amount of players the club has used in any single season in franchise history. Given how shorthanded their pitching staff is, that number will almost certainly go up by the time over next couple of weeks.