Angels play spoiler but drop series to Rangers in 5-0 loss

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA Today Sports
Griffin Canning threw 6 innings of 2- run ball, but it wasn't enough as the Halos lineup couldn't get into a rhythm against a determined Rangers pitching staff.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels had already been eliminated from postseason contention entering this series against the Rangers, but they had the opportunity to play spoiler and try to prevent Texas from winning their first AL West Division title since 2016. Despite losing on Monday night, the Angels were able to play spoiler on Tuesday night in a 9-3 win. However, Wednesday was very similar to Monday as the Halos failed to replicate Tuesday’s performance, especially at the plate. Griffin Canning put together a quality start and Kelvin Caceres made his MLB debut, but the Angels lineup mustered together just 3 hits and were shut out on the day as the Rangers won 5-0.

Here are my three takeaways from the game:

Griffin Canning comes through with a solid performance

Griffin Canning did everything he could to keep the Angels in Wednesday’s ballgame, throwing 6 innings of 2-run ball and giving up only 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs on the night. The Angels lineup just couldn’t put up runs, but Canning finished the year off with a strong performance. Though Canning was able to get out of some jams and pitch well with runners on base (he gave up 2 hits in the first inning but only 1 run) he has to work on putting away hitters more consistently. Canning had 5 K’s on the day, but very easily could have had 7 K’s as he gave up an RBI double and later a solo home-run to Adolis Garcia who was in 2-strike counts on both of those at-bats. On another occasion in the 2nd inning, Canning had a 2-2 count on Mitch Garver and left up a slider that was torched into left field for a single.

However, it is hard to nitpick Canning’s performance on Wednesday night and the season as a whole, considering he hadn’t pitched in a year. Canning was able to register 127 innings pitched (career high) and finished the season with a respectable 4.32 ERA and 139 strikeouts in his first season pitched since 2021, which is very impressive. After the game, Canning discussed his thoughts on how 2023 went for him,

“After not pitching for a year and half, I’m proud of myself for throwing 127 innings and very thankful to have people by my side that helped me get back and stay healthy. Lots of positives from this year and can only get better from here.”

Overall, Canning was able to stay healthy for most of the season and produce as a solid #3 starter in a rotation that desperately needed it. Phil Nevin added in the postgame press conference that Canning will be a mainstay in the rotation next season and was very impressed in Canning’s ability to consistently get deep into games and give the Angels a chance to win.

Angels’ struggles with RISP continue

As I have mentioned in previous articles, the Angels are no stranger to struggling with runners in scoring position. Wednesday’s game was no different as the team went 0-4 with RISP and didn’t have many opportunities with runners on base to begin with. In fact, aside from Michael Stefanic’s lead-off triple in the bottom of the 3rd inning that provided 3 out of those 4 at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Halos only had one more at-bat with RISP the rest of the game.

Besides Stefanic’s triple, only Logan O’Hoppe and David Fletcher had hits (both singles) as the rest of the lineup couldn’t touch Dane Dunning and the Rangers relievers. Even when the Angels put up 9 runs on Tuesday night, they still went just 1-6 with RISP, further showing their inability to drive in runners when it matters most. Regardless of what direction the Angels decide to go in this offseason, it remains clear that they to improve at hitting with runners in scoring position next season if they want to improve their win total.

Kelvin Caceres makes MLB Debut

Kelvin Caceres, a 23 year old RHP from the Dominican Republic, made his MLB debut on Wednesday night and with that became the 66th player used by Angels this season, tying last year’s club record. Caceres came in for Carlos Estevez (who had just given up back-to-back home runs and has an ERA above 8.00 since August) with 2 outs in the 9th and immediately walked Nathaniel Lowe before getting Adolis Garcia (who already had a home-run and an RBI double on the day) to fly out to center field. Caceres could not control his off-speed pitches that well in this outing, but boasted a sinker with a ton of movement and velocity.

The Sporting Tribune’s Taylor Blake Ward talked about Caceres’ curve ball in his scouting report on him that could take his game to another level, “The bread-and-butter of Caceres’ arsenal is a high-spin power curve that has sweeping motion that frequently registers 3000-3200 rpms.”. In the postgame press conference, Nevin added that even though Caceres’ couldn’t control his curve ball on Wednesday, his sinker is an elite pitch as well “Stuff wise, 18 inches of run on a sinker is as good as anyone. Like Jose Soriano’s sinker, pretty impressive stuff”. Caceres will look to build off his MLB debut against the Athletics in the Angels final series of the season.

The Angels have just three games remaining on the season, all against the Athletics at the Big-A. Following a day off on Thursday, Chase Silseth is set to pitch on Friday vs. the Athletics with first pitch scheduled for 6:38 PM PST.