ANAHEIM, Calif. — Since returning home, the Angels have stomached three tough losses against the Seattle Mariners.
After going 6-3 on their last homestand and 5-4 on the road against Detroit, Toronto and Atlanta, the Angels’ return to Anaheim has been marked by three losses to the Mariners, which included Carlos Estevéz snapping his 23-game save streak on Thursday and the bullpen struggling to keep the Mariners offense at bay on Friday even after the Angels lineup managed to come back from multiple multi-run deficits throughout the evening.
Tonight, they extended their losing streak to five games after dropping the third game of the series, 3-2. Back with a .500 record for the 14th time this season, the team is fighting to hold onto their postseason hopes, sitting six games back from the No. 3 American League Wild Card spot and 9.5 games back from the top of the division.
“The losses, the disappointment and the hurt — that’s a tough room to be in right now. We also know we got a lot of games left and a lot of things can happen,” said manager Phil Nevin after the game.
The offensive highlights from tonight’s game were courtesy of Randal Grichuk and Brandon Drury who put the Angels’ two runs on the board. Grichuk gave the Angels an early boost with a home run launched 431 feet into left center field. The solo blast marked his tenth home run of the season and his second in an Angels uniform.
Drury, who was reinstated from the IL on Friday after recovering from a left shoulder contusion, gave the Angels a chance to come back in the ninth with a two-out double that bounced out of the field. The ground rule stopped a runner at third and limited the Angels to scoring only one run, leaving the final score at 3-2 after Hunter Renfroe struck out swinging.
“We got the chance to win late, and the ball just barely jumps over the fence. Otherwise, it’s a tie game right there. Say it’s a game of inches or whatever you want to call it, and it certainly bit us today,” said Nevin.
With every game representing a critical stepping stone to the team’s potential postseason run, it can be difficult to recognize glimmers of success amidst tough losses, but it’s worth noting that starting pitcher Tyler Anderson is making significant progress toward becoming a more reliable and consistent starting arm in the rotation — and this might be when the Angels need him most.
“I feel like there’s a lot of games left, which is huge. Everyone’s talking right now like it’s the end of the season, but there’s a pretty significant amount of games left. And you know, we’re one good streak away from being right in the middle of things right here,” said Anderson.
In his 19th start this season, the 33-year-old lefty tossed five innings, striking out six and allowing two runs on two hits and three walks, a significant improvement from his previous performances this season. Throughout his career, Anderson has often worked through slower starts at the beginning of the year before ramping up around the middle of the season.
With the Dodgers in 2022, he recorded a 3.81 ERA after five starts in June. Just a month later, his ERA was down to 1.11 after five starts in July. He ended his run in Los Angeles with a 2.57 ERA, and his numbers with the Angels show signs of a similar trend.
At the end of June, following fourteen starts, he was throwing to the tune of a 5.73 ERA, which was down to 3.28 after five starts in July and is currently sitting at 3.60 after tonight’s start.
“I just feel like I’ve been feeling better. My body has been feeling better and I’m getting my delivery a little bit better,” said Anderson.
Anderson gave up his only two runs of the night to Julio Rodriguez who hit a two-out, two-run double in the third off his changeup.
“That one pitch to Julio, it wasn’t really a bad pitch. I just kind of threw what he was looking for there. I think with the exception of that, though, I just tried to battle and give us a chance,” Anderson said after the game.
Behind Anderson, Dominic Leone also had an impressive night as one of the new arms in the bullpen. On Aug. 1, the Angels traded 23-year-old shortstop prospect Jeremiah Jackson to the New York Mets to acquire Leone, who made his MLB debut in 2014 with the Mariners and currently holds a career 3.72 ERA.
After making his first appearance as an Angel last night and escaping a bases-loaded situation without allowing any runs, Leone was back on the bump on Saturday, following his stellar debut with two more scoreless innings, where he struck out two and allowed two hits and one walk.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Angels will look to avoid a series sweep by the Mariners, get back to a record over .500 and start a steady return to the playoff race.
“The optimism will still be there tomorrow when we show up. We got a job at hand, and we owe it to everybody to come out and play and we will. I told you that this team fights. You saw it today. You’re going to see it every day that’s not going to change,” said Nevin.