The LA Angels have opened the season with their hottest streak of the decade. Not only have they begun the season on a 5-2 record, proving many wrong with a series victory against the star-studded Cleveland Indians. Now the Athletics are looking for another go-around after the Angels took the first series of 2018 at Oakland; this time meeting the Angels in their home stadium.
This series is carries a mighty importance for the Angels, solely for the sake of continuing their hot streak and establishing themselves as legitimate contenders. After stealing victory from the Indians it’s time for the team to really stretch their competitive muscles during their second go-around against the A’s.
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A’s @ Angels
Well it seems the Angels are already dealing with injury fallouts as many expected, just not this early into the season. Matt Shoemaker, who is on the 10 Day DL active to 4/1, will miss the series opener. Parker Bridwell will be taking his place, another Angel in the long line of players looking to secure their presence with the team.
After running through relievers for 8 innings after Skaggs left in the 5th in Wednesday’s game it’s painfully critical that Bridwell hands a manageable game to the bullpen. It’s not all gloom however, because on the other side of the mound you have the A’s Daniel Gossett who struggled a bit in his start against the Angels. Four runs and six hits on two walks isn’t the worst stat line, but at only four innings of work it doesn’t inspire much confidence the A’s game time success.
And then we come to Shohei Ohtani, a man who has been blowing up the Major Leagues with his two-way talents, showcasing both a 100+ MPH fastball and a swing that will drive a ball to deep center. On Sunday we’ll see him take the mound against the A’s.
In his first start against the A’s he was successful, but with some faults. Too often did he leave his ball elevated, which led to the eventual 3-run HR allowed, though it seems he took to fixing his mistakes fast as that was a loud as the A’s would get that day. This is a true test for Ohtani, now that the A’s have see him in full force they will have a more developed game plan for Ohtani.
Given the fact that it’s been barely a week since Ohtani faced the A’s you can ensure they be executing this game plan with furious force. Fool them once, shame on them, fool them twice and you might be the real deal.
The Angels bullpen has been overworked in the last few days, and despite that they’ve been phenomenal. Keynan Middleton is pitching like a closer with his 0 runs over 5 IP to start the season. Noe Ramirez is coming through nicely with 3 games finished to a 3.00 ERA at exactly 3 IP. Even more exciting is his 7 K’s in those 3 IP. One of these guys is looking to take that big closer role for themselves if they keep this up.
- Speaking of closers, last years more popular reliever and end of season closer Blake Parker has struggled somewhat to open the season. In 3.1 IP he’s allowed two runs while collecting 4K’s on 2 BB’s and a save. His ERA is ballooned at 5.40, and given the small sampling it’s very viable if he levels out; and given his previous track record with the Angels it’s very possible he will level out.
- Zack Cozart had a rough series against the Indians. His struggles nearly eclipsed his hot start with a stark 0-11 run, leaving him almost invisible in the lineup. Until the 13th inning of the final game against the Indians that is, in which Cozart returned to form with a big walk off home run. Against the A’s Cozart played hardball, pulling together 4 XBH including a double, homer, and triple. Maybe in this series we’ll see him bring that cycle into a single game.
- Justin Upton has had troubles at the plate to open the season. With only a .222 BA in 27 AB’s it seems Upton is having trouble with the ball, and given his multiple misplays and errors in the OF you have to wonder when he’ll really hit his stride. However, his OBP of .313, a full 100 points higher, offers a lot of confidence in his coming production.
Most importantly, the Angels need to pull another series win against the A’s and show they can shut down a team time and time again. With a top class showing it will be clear very soon how competitive the Angels will be in the long run.
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some more Angels baseball magic coming your way!