Angels bullpen falters late in 5-1 loss to the Braves

The Angels never held a lead in Atlanta, but it was a one run game going into the 7th inning and the Braves pulled away late.

The Angels picked up one of their most impressive wins of the season on Monday against the Braves, but Tuesday was not as kind to them. The Halos lineup was shut down by opposing starter and Cy Young candidate Spencer Strider, and Jacob Webb gave up 3 runs in the 7th inning to put the game out of reach for the Halos. The Braves were heavy favorites entering the contest at -250 on sports-books considering they are the best team in baseball and had one of the best pitchers in the league on the mound. However, the Angels hung in there for a long time and had plenty of opportunities with runners on base vs. Strider but just couldn’t capitalize. In fact, the Halos left 7 runners on base, 5 of which were with runners in scoring position, one of the team’s biggest issues as of late. Nonetheless, the Angels still have an opportunity to win a series tomorrow no one thought they could win against the best team in baseball.

Here are my three takeaways from the game:

Patrick Sandoval has another solid outing 

Patrick Sandoval struggled early on in Tuesday’s game, walking two batters, giving up two hits, and throwing 34 pitches overall in just the 1st inning. However, despite an atrocious first inning Sandoval gave up just 1 run and seemed to settle in after that. Sandoval got a 1-2-3 2nd inning and only got into trouble again in the bottom of the 5th inning where Michael Harris II hit a home-run to make it 2-1 Braves.

Sandoval has failed to get past the 5 inning mark in each of his last two starts, but in both of those outings he threw 23+ pitches in the 1st inning and was able to settle down afterwards. Also in both of those starts Sandoval was able to limit the opposing team to 2 runs or less despite walking guys and having a high pitch count. The tenacity Sandoval has shown just to get through 5 innings in each of his last two starts despite getting into trouble early in those games is admirable and will be needed for the upcoming run to make the postseason.

Jacob Webb struggles out of the pen

After Patrick Sandoval’s 5 innings of 2 run ball, Jacob Webb came into the game down 2-1 and actually pitched a scoreless 6th inning. However, since the bullpen has been taxed over the last two days, Webb had to go back out for the 7th inning. People may blame Angels Manager Phil Nevin for keeping Webb in the game, but it wasn’t a bad decision at the time considering Webb had just thrown a scoreless inning against the best lineup in baseball and the pen was thin.I would have left Webb in the game as well, and it is unfortunate what occurred afterwards.

Webb became a fan favorite following a save he picked up against the Rangers in June when Angels closer Carlos Estevez loaded the bases with no outs in a close game. Webb only allowed 1 runner to come in and shut down one of the best lineups in baseball to pick up a pivotal series victory for the Halos. In fact, Webb started off the year giving up just 5 runs in 18.2 innings pitched, boasting an ERA close to 2.00. However, as dominant as Webb looked in June, he’s been a fragment of himself in July and the beginning of August, giving up a whopping 9 earned runs over his last 12 innings pitched. In Webb’s second inning of work on Tuesday he gave up a 2-run home run to Orlando Arcia and a solo shot to Michael Harris II (his second of the game) that allowed the Braves to go up 5-1 and put the game virtually out of reach for the Angels. Despite the recent struggles, with Ben Joyce and Sam Bachman likely being out at least another month, Webb is going to continue to be used in pivotal situations when the rest of the bullpen is taxed.

Randal Grichuk continues his hot start  

Randal Grichuk was acquired by the Angels just two days ago but has already made an impact as one of the team’s most reliable hitters. In Grichuk’s Halos debut on Monday he hit a crucial solo home run in the 4th inning that put the Angels up 2-0, and on Tuesday he supplied a 2 hit game with 2 singles. In fact, his second single in the top of the 5th inning allowed Mickey Moniak (who also singled on the previous at-bat) to get to third with 0 outs in the inning. However, Matt Thaiss struck out and even though Zach Neto got Moniak home with a fielders choice to second, Grichuk was stranded in scoring position.

Nonetheless, Grichuk could become one of the biggest steals at the trade deadline as he is now batting .310 with 9 home runs, 28 RBI’s and an OPS of .869 in 248 at-bats this season. Grichuk has already filled in nicely for the injured Taylor Ward and provides some much-needed stability in the middle part of the order. Furthermore, if Grichuk continues to get big hits at this rate, it will be hard for Phil Nevin to bench him when the team gets a healthy Mike Trout and Brandon Drury back.

The Angels will look to win the series tomorrow with Lucas Giolito on the mound to face Yonny Chirinos. First pitch is scheduled for 9:20 a.m. PT.