LA Angels News

Los Angeles Angels had a lot of highs and lows over the weekend.

By David Rice
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 13: Zack Cozart #7 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk-off single in the ninth inning during the MLB game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium on May 13, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Twins 2-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 13: Zack Cozart #7 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk-off single in the ninth inning during the MLB game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium on May 13, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Twins 2-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Many baseball experts have predicted that the Los Angeles Angels and the Minnesota Twins will battle it out for the second wild-card spot this season. With Boston or New York getting the 1st wild-card spot.

In the first match-up between the Los Angeles Angels Angels and Minnesota Twins there were four very close games, including three that were decided in the winning team’s final at-bat. It was nerve-racking and exhilarating to watch at the same time as well as frustrating.  In the end both the Angels and Twins split the series winning two games each.

Game 1  Angels 7   Twins  4   Final

In the first game of the series on Thursday night the Angels seemed to be in control up 4-0 through five innings and Garrett Richards on the mound cruising having given up only two hits.  Unfortunately Richards unraveled in the sixth giving three hits including a three-run homer to Brian Dozier to cut the Angel lead to 4-3.

More from Halo Hangout

Jose Alvarez who has been one of the Angels best relievers this season came in to face Max Kepler and Kepler tied the score at 4 with a solo homer.  The Angels would bounce right back in the bottom of the 6th scoring two runs on a Kole Calhoun sacrifice fly and a Martin Maldonado RBI-Double to give the Angels a 6-4 lead.

Shohei Ohtani would then extend the Halos lead with a monster home run to left-center to make it a three-run cushion.  The Angels bullpen was able to shut the Twins down for the last three innings to give the Angels a 7-4 victory.  Justin Upton hit a home run for the fourth time in five games to help the Angel cause.

Game 2    Twins 5   Angels 4  Final.

The second game of the series was similar to game one with the Angels jumping out to a 4-1 lead after five innings with Upton again providing a key homer, this one was a two-run shot in the third inning.  Tyler Skaggs pitched a strong six innings giving up only two solo homers to Dozier and Eddie Rosario striking out seven batters and leaving it in the hands of the bullpen with a 4-2 lead.

The 7th and 8th went off without a hitch as Noe Ramirez and then Justin Anderson locked the Twins down.  Unfortunately in the 9th inning Anderson gave up a solo homer to Rosario, his second of the game and then Logan Morrison got a one out double to put the tying run in scoring position.

Want your voice heard? Join the Halo Hangout team!

Write for us!

After an intentional walk to Kepler, Jim Johnson came in and gave up an RBI-Single to Mitch Garver and the lead was gone. Bobby Wilson followed with a sacrifice fly to left to complete the Twins comeback as Minnesota took a 5-4 lead and held on for the victory.  This was only the second time all season that the Angels had lost a game they were leading going into the 9th inning.

Game 3  Twins 5   Angels  3   Final /12 innings.

The third game of the series saw a role reversal as it was the Twins who broke out on top early taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the third off of Angel pitcher Nick Tropeano.  The Angels clawed their back scoring single runs in the third, sixth, and 7th innings with Justin Upton coming up big with a game-tying single that scored Kole Calhoun who had walked to lead off the inning.

Tropeano finished his night after six innings giving up only the three runs in the third.  The Angels bullpen shut the Twins down over the next three innings to give the Angels a chance to win the game and Albert Pujols almost did so in the bottom of the 9th as he came up with runners at the corners and two outs.  Pujols hit a scorching line drive on a 3-2 pitch that Twins center fielder Byron Buxton barely was able to track down to rob the Angels of the victory.

The Angels would have good chances again in the 10th and 11th inning including leaving the bases loaded in the 11th, but they would be turned away both times.  In the top of the 12th the Twins would touch Angel reliever Noe Ramirez, who was working his third inning of relief, for two runs and that would allow the Twins to squeak out a 5-3 victory.  In total the Angels would leave 15 men on base in the game which sealed their fate.

Game 4  Angels  2  Twins  1  Final.

Sunday’s game was the marquee match-up that many fans were waiting for.  Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani against Twins rookie fireballer Fernando Romero. The match-up lived up to its billing as both pitchers were on their game.

Ohtani started striking out Twins at fast pace recording seven strikeouts in the first three innings.  After five innings Ohtani had given up only two hits and had 10 punch outs.  Romero was almost equally as tough holding the Angels to only two hits in the first four innings while striking out five batters.

In the bottom of the fifth Martin Maldonado ripped a double down the left-field line and went to third on an infield single by Zack Cozart.  Justin Upton then hit what looked like a sure double play ball to Twins third baseman Eduardo Escobar, but Upton was able to just beat the Brian Dozier relay throw to first to keep the inning alive and allow Maldonado to score.

The Twins threatened in the top of the sixth inning but Ohtani stranded Dozier, who had walked earlier in the inning, at third as he struck out Eddie Rosario for his 11th and final strikeout of the game.

In the top of the seventh inning Logan Morrison drew a one-out walk on a 3-2 pitch which ended Ohtani’s afternoon.  Unfortunately Cam Bedrosian was not able to hold the Twins down as consecutive singles by Robbie Grossman and Joe Mauer tied the game at 1 giving Ohtani a hard luck no-decision.

ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 13: Pitcher Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the first inning during the MLB game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium on May 13, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 13: Pitcher Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the first inning during the MLB game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium on May 13, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /

Ohtani finished the game with 103 pitches, 69 of which were strikes.  He gave up only three hits and two walks and the one run that Bedrosian allowed was charged to him. His 11 strikeouts was his highest total of the season and also broke an Angel rookie record for most strikeouts through six starts with 43.

So again the game rested in the hands of both bullpens.  Keynan Middleton came in the 8th and retired the first two hitters he faced, but then had to exit due to elbow discomfort after a 1-1 pitch to Rosario.  Johnson finished the inning quickly inducing Rosario to hit a lazy fly ball to Justin Upton in left.

More from LA Angels News

The 9th inning wasn’t so simple.  Johnson started well striking out Mitch Garver, but then allowed a single to Ehire Adrianza.  Robbie Grossman followed with a double to the wall in left, which produced the play of the game.  Mike Trout fielded the ball off the wall and threw a strike to Ian Kinsler who made a perfect relay throw home to just get Adrianza at home by an eyelash to keep the score tied.

Johnson wasn’t out of danger just yet as he walked back-to-back hitters, Joe Mauer was intentionally walked, and then Johnson walked Bobby Wilson as well to load the bases.  Blake Parker was summoned to rescue Johnson and delivered as he got Dozier to foul out to Cozart at third to end thee inning.

After all that the Angels once again tried to finally get that key hit.  Chris Young led off by getting hit by a pitch and was sacrificed to second by a  Martin Maldonado bunt.  Up came Cozart and he delivered his second walk-off hit of the season lacing and RBI-single to left off of the Twins Zach Duke giving the Angels an exciting 2-1 victory and allowing them to split the series.

Series Analysis.

The Angels could have easily swept this series if they could have held the lead on Friday night and cashed in one of the 15 runners they left stranded on Saturday night. They could also have lost three of four games if not for some great defense and Cozart’s heroics on Sunday.

The starting pitching was overall very good, with only Garrett Richards (5.1 IP) failing to make it through at least six innings.  The bullpen was definitely very strong at times, but still blew leads in three of the four games giving up a total of seven earned runs in 15.2 innings of work (4.02 ERA).

The usually reliable Justin Anderson and Jose Alvarez were both touched for runs with Anderson blowing his first save opportunity by giving up three runs in the 9th inning on Friday night.  Cam Bedrosian blew the lead on Sunday, but limited the damage to just the one run to give the Angels a chance to win it in the 9th.  Noe Ramirez also pitched well going four innings, three of which were scoreless, but unfortunately lost the game on Saturday night by giving up two runs in the 12th inning.

Jim Johnson did not give up any runs in 2.2 innings, but was very shaky on Sunday.  The biggest though comes with Keynan Middleton.  The early season closer came back from the disabled list on Thursday and pitched two clean innings on Thursday and Saturday in non-save situations.  On Sunday though he had to be lifted from the game in the 8th inning due to elbow discomfort.

KANSAS CITY, MO – APRIL 14: Keynan Middleton
KANSAS CITY, MO – APRIL 14: Keynan Middleton /

Preliminary reports after an MRI Monday are that Middleton has UCL damage (possible tear) and could miss significant time, possibly the rest of the season pending a second opinion.

If Middleton is out for the season or misses significant time the Angels will need to find a new person to step in and fill the closer role as the closer-by-committee doesn’t usually seem to work out very well in the long run.  Blake Parker, Jim Johnson, and Cam Bedrosian all have closing experience, and Justin Anderson has closer-like stuff, but as of now no one has been named to this spot.  This could be an Achilles Heel if the Angels are not careful.

The other issue is getting hits with runners in scoring position which was an issue in both Saturday and Sunday’s game.  The Angels stranded 25 runners in the two games, but thankfully came out of them with a split.  The Twins pitching was fairly strong, but compared to the Houston Astros who come in town today for a three-game series, Minnesota does not stack up.

The Angels need to get increased production from the bottom of the line-up as only Martin Maldonado is hitting over .220 in the 7th-9th spots for the Angels.  Ian Kinsler and either Kole Calhoun or Chris Young have all struggled to hit this season and this is a problem that needs to be rectified or you are going to see a lot more teams doing what the Twins did on Saturday night walking both the #2 – #5 hitters to get to the bottom of the order.

Next: The Angels starting rotation coming together

We will have to see how the Angels do over the next week with Houston and Tampa Bay.  Hopefully they will continue to get good starting pitching and a the bullpen will tightening things up giving the Angels offense a chance to get going.

facebooktwitterreddit