ANAHEIM, Calif. — For all the highs, there are bound to be lows.
The Angels swept the New York Yankees earlier this week and took the series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, but their four-game hot streak came to an abrupt end on Saturday night when they fell to the Pirates, 3-0.
After a silent offense struggled to produce behind young starter Reid Detmers, the Angels’ record is now 50-49, and they sit four games back from the No. 3 American League wild card spot with eight games before the MLB trade deadline on Aug. 1.
Here are three takeaways from tonight’s game:
Reid Detmers continues to show improvement
It’s been a year of growth and development for the 24-year-old lefty who has become one of the better arms in the starting rotation, despite having a shaky start to the year.
In April, Detmers pitched to the tune of a 4.85 ERA, allowing 19 runs on 26 hits with 10 walks and 31 strikeouts through five starts. His May report didn’t yield much better results, as his ERA went up to 5.03 after allowing 11 runs on 25 hits with 9 walks and 27 strikeouts acoss four starts. None of those first nine starts yielded wins for the Angels’ 2020 10th overall draft pick.
However, the summer months are shaping up to tell a much different and much improved story. Tonight, in his 11th start at home, it looks like he’s determined to stay on that upward trajectory that started trending in June.
In his 18th start of the season, Detmers threw five innings and kept the Pirates scoreless through the first four. He allowed two runs on six hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.
Several of his strikeouts today were the result of his slider, which normally takes a backseat to his four-seam fastball.
“I feel good. I made pitches when I had to. Obviously my pitch count got up pretty quick because they fouled a lot of pitches off. I got into a couple of jams where I had to work through it, but I felt good,” said Detmers.
Early on in the season, Detmers struggled pitching later into games, something that happened today in light of a high pitch count. Nevin said after the game that that’s something they will continue to work on, but as for the pitches themselves, he’s happy with the repertoire that the young starter is building.
“We have to get better at being a little more efficient with our pitches. He’ll tell you the same thing,” said Nevin. “He’s going to be the guy that’s going to pitch deep into games when he figures this out. His stuff is too good. You guys can go around the league, and he has some of the best stuff in baseball.”
The offense went cold
Throughout their four game winning streak over the past week, the team has shown serious power at the plate. On Friday, they set a new franchise record with a streak of 19 consecutive games where they hit at least one home run.
That power was missing in action on Saturday as the Angels struggled to capitalize on the five hits that they recorded. They left eight runners on base, despite two prime scoring opportunities in the fourth and ninth inning.
Nevin said after the game that he felt like the fourth inning was the turning point for the offense losing steam, when Mickey Moniak (single), Taylor Ward (walk) and Mike Moustakas (single) loaded the bases with no outs. Before the Angels could paint the scoreboard with those runs, Matt Thaiss lined out into a double play and Hunter Renfroe struck out swinging.
Rookie Trey Cabbage, who hit his first big league homer last night but was 0-for-4 tonight, had a chance to push the Angels to the top in the ninth with the bases loaded and one out, but he grounded into a double play to finalize the 3-0 loss.
The lineup continues to move around due to injury
Zach Neto, who was originally penciled into the leadoff spot for today’s matchup, was scratched at the last minute due to lower back tightness. Nevin said that Neto first started to feel the tightness late during last night’s game, after he launched his eighth home run into left center field.
Neto worked with chiropractors and doctors this morning, but his back continued to feel tight. Nevin added that if the tightness persists, Neto will get a day off tomorrow ahead of the team’s off day on Monday, and he anticipates he’ll be ready to go on Tuesday.
“Tomorrow’s a new day, so we’ll see how I feel when I wake up. I felt pretty good with the treatment I did today, so we’ll just see how I wake up tomorrow. If I play, I play and if I don’t, then I’ll be the biggest cheerleader out there,” said Neto. “We’re just going to take it day by day and I’m hoping I get in there tomorrow, but if I can’t then hopefully by Tuesday.”
Anthony Rendon, who was placed on the IL with a left shin contusion, has been shut down from baseball activity completely after an MRI yesterday showed significant bleeding in the bone, said Nevin.
After getting hit by a pitch in San Diego, Rendon underwent x-rays and CT scans which showed no signs of a fracture. He continued work on the field, but after getting the MRI results, he’ll be taking two weeks to rest, and there’s no timetable for his return yet, said Nevin.
“This is more significant than we actually thought,” said Nevin. “It’s frustrating not having answers and I think yesterday gave us a little more clear picture of where he’s dealing with, and it’s just something that’s going to take time.”