The Angels just can’t get out of their own way. After being swept by the Reds and losing 2/3 games against the Rays in their previous two series’, they found a way to bounce back and win the first two games of this series against the Mets. Just like every other instance the Angels have seemed to find life this season, they threw it all away in a game they should have easily won. Griffin Canning had his best performance of the season, and though the lineup struggled against David Peterson, Luis Rengifo was able to give the Angels a late lead with a solo home run in the top of the 8th inning.
With reliable relievers Matt Moore and Reynaldo Lopez set to come in, the Halos should have had this game locked up. Instead, Moore and Lopez looked atrocious and the Mets came from behind to walk off the Angels in the bottom of the 9th inning. The Halos could have creeped back close to .500 with a win (they would have been just three games under), but instead they fall to 63-68 and are now five games under .500.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Griffin Canning has excellent outing
Griffin Canning hadn’t made a start for the Angels since July 25th, but made a few relief appearances over the last few weeks. Those appearances weren’t his best performances, as Canning gave up 4 runs in just 3.1 innings pitched against the Rangers and 1 run over 3.1 innings pitched against the Rays. However, on Sunday against the Mets Canning looked like a completely different pitcher, dominating over 7 innings pitched where he struck out 9 batters and only gave up 5 hits and 1 run.
Canning’s changeup and slider looked excellent and his fastball velocity was back up to 95-96 miles per hour on Sunday. Though the Angels lineup gave him virtually no run support, Canning put the Angels in a position to win despite a lackluster offensive showing. Nevertheless, Canning still boasts a 4.38 ERA on the season with 110 strikeouts over 98.2 innings pitched and will look to build off of Sunday’s performance over his last few starts of the season.
Luis Rengifo has huge day at the plate
Luis Rengifo has been the most consistent Angels hitter not named Shohei Ohtani over the second half of the season. Unlike a lot of his peers, Rengifo finds a way to stay healthy and that has paid dividends with huge months at the plate in July and August. In July, Rengifo hit .315 with 6 home runs and 23 hits and in August he almost matched that performance hitting .294 with 2 home runs and 25 hits so far. On Sunday, most Angels hitters looked completely lost against Mets pitchers, but Rengifo was the only batter in the lineup to record 2 hits with the second one being a solo home run in the top of the 8th inning to put the Halos ahead 2-1.
Not only has Rengifo been excellent at the plate over the last two months, but he’s shown off his versatility, playing multiple positions and doing whatever is asked by the Angels. Overall, Rengifo’s OPS of .743 is the highest of his career (last year he had a .724 OPS with 17 home runs) and he has a more mature approach at the plate this year significantly raising his OBP to .333 from .294 last year. At just 26 years old and already multiple productive seasons for the Angels, Rengifo has established himself as a valuable piece in the young core moving forward.
Matt Moore and Reynaldo Lopez fail to close game out
Entering the 8th inning, following Rengifo’s go ahead solo home run, the Angels were up 2-1 and needed just 6 outs without allowing another run to win and secure the sweep over the Mets. Matt Moore, who has been excellent this season with a 2.30 ERA in 43 innings pitched, gave up two hits including a game-tying RBI double to Pete Alonso in the 8th inning. Reynaldo Lopez came in with the score tied at 2-2 but didn’t even record an out, giving up a walk and two hits to the Mets who walked it off.
Lopez had been excellent since being acquired by the Angels in the Lucas Giolito trade with 8.2 innings pitched and only two runs given up in that span. However, on Sunday against a very weak Mets lineup Lopez looked like a completely different pitcher. Carlos Estevez, who has had his own issues as of late, could not pitch due to picking up saves in both Friday and Saturday’s matchups, but Moore and Lopez should have been enough to secure a sweep for the Halos.
The Angels now travel to Philadelphia where they will take on the Phillies for a three game series starting on Monday. Lucas Giolito is set to pitch against Taijuan Walker with first pitch scheduled for 3:40 PM PST.