Despite a tumultuous and devastating week that included news that Shohei Ohtani would not pitch again this season, the Angels found a way to stay focused and pick up a victory against the Mets. Patrick Sandoval was excellent, Ohtani and Mike Moustakas came up with big hits, and Nolan Schanuel extended his hit streak to 7 games to begin his career.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Patrick Sandoval has excellent outing
Patrick Sandoval gave up six runs (only two of which were earned) in his last outing against the Rays on August 19th. That start marked the second consecutive outing where Sandoval gave up five or more runs and the fourth consecutive start of two or more earned runs given up. On Friday Sandoval looked like a different pitcher cruising through a Mets lineup that has had a lot of success recently, striking out 7 batters and only giving up two hits over 6 innings pitched. The one earned run that Sandoval gave up came on a 0-1 changeup that he left over the middle of the plate to Francisco Lindor, who hit a solo home run to left field.
Command has been the main issue for Sandoval this season, but when he’s getting whiffs on his slider and changeup, he becomes a completely different pitcher. That is exactly what happened on Friday as Sandoval’s slider and changeup were working well and allowed him to strike out batters in crucial situations following walks. In fact, Sandoval’s command is still the central issue and though he pitched well on Friday, he still issued 4 free passes in just 6 innings pitched. On the year Sandoval has walked 59 batters (just one away from tying his career high of 60) and has only struck out 109 batters as a comparison. Sandoval should be able to continue to pitch well if he can miss bats at the rate he did against the Mets on Friday night.
Shohei Ohtani shows off his bat even with UCL tear
Though Shohei Ohtani will continue to seek second opinions in the coming weeks regarding his UCL tear, he remains adamant about staying in the Angels lineup as the designated hitter and continuing his historic season at the plate. Even with a torn UCL, Ohtani didn’t look like he lost a step at the plate hitting a double in the third inning that was hit 115.4 miles per hour off the bat.
Ohtani’s double allowed the Angels to have runners on second and third base no outs and the Halos ended up capitalizing and scoring two runs that inning. Ohtani also registered three walks, one of which was intentional (something he is getting used to as by far the most intentionally walked hitter in baseball this season). Ohtani now boasts an average of .305 with 44 home runs, 91 RBI’s, 143 hits, and an OPS of 1.073 (by far the best in baseball), and will continue to be a force at the plate this season.
Nolan Schanuel extends hit streak to 7 games
Nolan Schanuel has some of the best plate vision of any 21-year old baseball fans have seen in recent memory. He reached base a whopping 8 times in Wednesday’s double-header against the Reds and showed off his immense talent yet again on Friday against the Mets. Despite registering a rare strike out in the top of the 7th inning (he took a pitch right on the corner that could have gone either way) Schanuel gave the Angels some insurance with an RBI single in the top of 9th inning to make it 3-1.
Schanuel’s single in the 9th extended his hit streak to 7 games to start his young career, now just two games behind David Eckstein’s 9 game hit streak to start his career. Though Schanuel has yet to get an extra-base hit, he’s managed to simply find a way to get on base, indicative of his unreal .516 OBP so far this season. Furthermore, even though the Angels have been effectively eliminated from postseason contention, Schanuel has been a bright spot that gives Angels fans something to look forward to the rest of this season.
The Angels are now 62-67, five games under .500 on the season, and will play the Mets in the second game of this three game series on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 4:15 PM PST and Chase Silseth is set to start against Carlos Carrasco.