The Angels are half a game back of the division lead with the Astros going on a 3 game win streak. A lot of people in the sports media are doubting the Angels ability to score even a wild card spot, but can you blame them for thinking this? The Angels have blown almost every opportunity to prove their stuff on the big stage time and time again. Red Sox? Soiled the bed. Yankees? Embarassed themselves worse than a comedic relief in a physical comedy. The Twins may not be an East Coast blowout team, but with the Angels in the thick of a hot competition for the division lead they’ll have to play like they’re shooting the biggest fish in the ocean.
Saturday, 5/12; 6:07PM PT: TBA vs Kyle Gibson (1-1, 3.49)
Garrett Richards has been the model of consistency lately, sure he isn’t going deep into games, but the fact that you can expect 5 innings of while giving up more than 2 runs in all but two starts this season. Those starts? The first game of the season and his second to last outing against New York when he gave up 9 runs in 1.2 IP.
I’m aware Richards put his best foot forward last time out against the Mariners with 6.2 IP of no run baseball along with 8 K’s. The Twins are on a five game win streak in which they’ve scored 5+ runs per game. With the Twins hitting as hard as they are Richards will need to prove that his consistency is as solid as he’s shown in the majority of his starts.
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Lance Lynn is taking the mound against the Angels in the second game of the set and despite his massive season struggles he’s had a calming start in his last outing. Prior to his last outing against the White Sox in which he pitched 6 IP with 7 K’s and 2 runs allowed Lynn had allowed 17 runs through three starts.
Tyler Skaggs will be the perfect man to have on the mound in this game. Coming off a 7 K affair gives him heat coming into this game, and prior to his last start Skaggs put together an 8 K outing. The Angels offense could use a big-game start from Skaggs so they can comfortably swing the bats and put up big runs on the board.
The Angels starting pitching has had a spot or two up in the air, Jaime Barria recently coming up to solidy one of the starting spots. What we do know is Kyle Gibson will be taking the mound against the Angels, and with a 8 K start against the White Sox he’ll look to further his fastball fortuntes.
We’ll be seeing a battle of rookie sensations with Shohei Ohtani batting the red hot rookie Fernando Romero. We all know exactly what’s been going on with Ohtani’s historic start to his career, but Romero has been practical perfection with two wins and no runs allowed in two stars. The only thing that really sticks out is his inconsistencies pitching around the plate, noted by his 3 walks allowed each game. However, he did strike out 9 in his last outing, so there is good chance he is trending upwards as all rookies should. As great as he’s been, if there is one team set to spoil his fantastic start it would be the Angels.
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What to look for
- Mike Trout. He’s Mike Trout, the best player in baseball. For the longest time he was the only reason to give the Angels a serious look, and now with the entire team playing serious baseball we have a world of talent to keep our eyes on. Regardless, Trout is the go to guy, even when Ohtani is commanding the spotlight. He may have only had two hits in the Colorado Rockies series, but with 3 runs an RBI and a walk with zero strikeouts he’s always showing his immense value even when not putting his bat to the ball.
- Zack Cozart has been moving past his offensive struggles in a big way in the last few series. He’s reached base safely in 8 of 9 appearances dating back to April 25th against the Astros. Three of his last four games have been multi-hit affairs while clobbering 2 HR’s and 2 doubles in the last 3 games. He’s also scored 6 runs in the last week, giving him top-tier value at the batters box and on the basepaths.
Remember when Ian Kinsler said he’d never play for the Angels while he was a member of the Texas Rangers? Well it certainly seems that way, he’s hitting only .192/.267/.255. I could go on and on about how bad he’s been this season, but that slash line explains it away simply enough. Maybe this series is when he kicks his average back over .200. At this point it feels like wishful thinking.
Whatever happens this series it will be important for the Angels to play well and show they belong in the talk of AL Playoff teams.