Just a few days ago the Angels had won 8 out of 9 games and were just 3 games out of a Wild Card spot in the American League. Fast-forward two days later the Angels playoff hopes are dwindling right before our eyes with two atrocious losses to the team in front of them that owns the final Wild Card Spot, the Blue Jays. Now 5 games back of a playoff spot and still behind the Red Sox and Yankees as well, not just the Jays, the Halos should be in panic mode entering Sunday morning’s series finale. If they get swept by the Jays, they will be 6 games back of a playoff spot and in a terrible position going into August 1st’s trade deadline despite their signified intention to be buyers at the deadline.
The Halos already traded for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez (who both have looked good so far, will get into Lopez more in this article) and certainly won’t be quiet in the coming days with acquisitions despite recent failures. Angels GM Perry Minasian remains adamant about this being a team that can make a playoff push, but after the last two days it would certainly be hard to find people who agree with that statement.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Angels can’t convert with runners in scoring position
The Angels had plenty of opportunities against the Blue Jays on Friday night, a game they lost 4-1, as they failed to get a runner home with 0 outs and the bases loaded once. They also loaded the bases again later on in the game with 1 out failed to get a runner home as well. Saturday’s game against the Jays was more of the same lack of execution as the Angels scored their only run of the game on a bases loaded HBP with 0 outs before stranding all of the remaining base runners with 3 consecutive outs. Later on, the Angels had the bases loaded again and Mickey Moniak (who had his 18 game hit streak come to an end on Saturday) struck out for the third time of the game in a crucial situation.
The Angels entered this series just 3 games behind the Jays and the 3rd Wild Card spot, and after two abysmal offensive performances in a row they are now 5 games back entering Sunday’s series finale. Sure, a lot of this lack of execution is because of the multitude of injuries the Angels have endured with Mike Trout, Brandon Drury, and Anthony Rendon all missing substantial time recently, but there is no excuse when a team cannot even muster together 1 hit with runners in scoring position. Over the first two games of this series the Angels have gone 0-17 with runners in scoring position and have struck out 29 times, indicating they simply aren’t seeing the ball well and executing. Regardless of who will be in the lineup on Sunday, the Angels will at the very least look at getting back their offensive momentum they had coming into the Jays series.
Taylor Ward hit in the face and carted off the field
In a very scary situation in the top of the 5th inning, Taylor Ward was struck by a 91.7 MPH Sinker from Alek Manoah and immediately went to the ground bleeding from his face. The game was stopped and Ward was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital. It didn’t matter that the Angels went up 1-0 as everyone in the stadium was only concerned for Ward’s health, not the game.
There is not an update yet on how serious Ward’s facial injury is, but Angels Manager Phil Nevin went to visit him at the hospital after the game and the baseball world has Ward in their prayers. It remains to be seen how long Ward will be out, but if it is indeed a substantial amount of time, the Angels will lose one of their best hitters over the last month since Ward hit .304 with 5 home runs, 17 RBIS, and a slugging percentage of .623 in the month of July.
Reynaldo Lopez dominates in Angels debut
There weren’t a lot of positives for the Angels from Saturday’s game, but newly minted reliever Reynaldo Lopez was one of them. Acquired from the White Sox along with Lucas Giolito last Wednesday night, Lopez finally made his Angels debut on Saturday and did not disappoint, throwing 1.1 dominant innings of relief striking out 3 and only giving up 1 hit. When Angels starter Reid Detmers was struggling in the 5th inning, Lopez was relied upon to come in and provide stability and he did just that.
Everyone has been talking about how crucial acquiring Giolito was for the Angels to contend, but Lopez was an excellent pick up as well. In the month of July Lopez has thrown 9.1 innings striking out 14 and giving up just 6 hits and 0 runs over that span. Despite the recent struggles over the last few days, the Angels are a much better baseball team now with Giolito and Lopez and they could prove to be the difference in them staying in the race or completely falling out of it by mid August.