The Angels were just a few outs away from being a season worst 8 games under .500 as they blew multiple leads in the later innings of Wednesdays game. However, even when the Halos had no momentum, they found a way to score some runs off of Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel to win. Mike Moustakas reached first after a drop third strike that went to the back stop and Nolan Schanuel moved Trey Cabbage (who pinch ran for Moustakas) to third base with a single. In fact, Schanuel 9th inning single marked his 10th straight game with a hit as he broke the franchise record for most consecutive games with a hit to start a career (David Eckstein previously held the record with 9 straight games with a hit to start his career in 2001).
After Schanuel’s hit, Luis Rengifo hit a sacrifice fly that drove in Cabbage to make it 8-8 with just 1 out and a guy on first base. Though Shohei Ohtani struck out the next at bat to give the Phillies two outs. Brandon Drury hit a two-run home run to make it 10-8 angels going into the bottom of the 9th. From that point on Carlos Estevez was in control pitching a 1-2-3 9th inning to pick up his 29th save of the season as the Angels avoided a sweep on Wednesday. With a 64-70 record, the Angels still are 6 games under .500 entering a 3-game series against Oakland this weekend.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Brandon Drury hits game winning home run in 9th
Brandon Drury has been one of the few bright spots for the Angels this season. Drury missed all of July with an injury, but already has 19 home runs and 64 RBI’s so far this season. On top of that, Drury’s batting average of .269 and OPS of .794 are two of the best marks on the Halos this season. On Wednesday in the 9th inning, Drury was down in count with two outs and a guy on first base against Kimbrel, but ended up working a 2-2 count.
Kimbrel left a high fastball up in the zone for Drury to square up and he hit a two-run home run to right field to give the Angels a late 10-8 lead going into the bottom of the 9th inning. Despite the Angels playing atrocious baseball recently (worst record in league since All-Star break) Drury has been hot recently producing 8 hits over his last 6 games. With Mike Trout and a slew of other Angels hitters out, Drury has been one of the very few consistently productive hitters in the lineup recently. Drury’s two-year $17 million dollar deal is proving to be a discount for the Halos and he will be back on a hopefully better (and less injured) Angels roster next season.
Reynaldo Lopez and Matt Moore continue to struggle
Reynaldo Lopez had been pitching excellent for the Angels before the Mets series as he threw 8.2 innings and only gave up 2 runs for the Angels since being acquired from the White Sox at the trade deadline. However, in the final game of the Mets series, Lopez failed to record an out and gave up a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th inning to lose. In Wednesdays matchup, Lopez came in with a 5-3 lead, two runners on base, and 2 outs with Trea Turner coming up to the plate.
After throwing a 96 mph fastball by Turner the first pitch of the at bat, Lopez threw virtually the same pitch and Turner hit a 3-run home run to give the Phillies a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the 6th inning. Turner has been one of the hottest hitters in the MLB at the plate recently and already had hit 3 home runs through two games against the Angels in this series before Wednesday. Instead of throwing competitive pitches, Lopez grooved two 96 mph fastballs right down the middle and Turner didn’t miss the second one. Lopez then got Bryce Harper to fly out and threw a scoreless 7th inning, but the damage was already done.
After Hunter Renfroe gave the Angels the lead back in the top of the 8th inning, Reliable reliever Matt Moore came in to pitch the bottom of the 8th. Like Lopez, Moore had been excellent in his Angels tenure before the Mets series. In the 8th inning of Sundays series finale against the Mets (just one inning before Lopez gave up the walk-off win) Moore gave up two hits including an RBI double to Pete Alonso that allowed the Mets to tie the game. Moore has blown Angels leads in back-to-back appearances now, but still boasts an ERA of 2.66 in over 44 innings pitched this season.
Hunter Renfroe surprises with 3-hit performance
Despite being put on waivers on Tuesday, Hunter Renfroe put together his best performance as an Angel on Thursday with 3 hits including a 2-run home run in the 1st inning to put the Halos on top 2-0. Later on in the game, after the Angels were down 6-5 in the top of the 8th inning, Renfroe came up with 1 out and the bases loaded and delivered with a 2-RBI single to put the Angels back on top 7-6 entering the bottom of the 8th inning.
Though Matt Moore surrendered the lead by giving up a 2-run home run to Bryce Harper in the bottom of the 8th inning, the Angels ended up finding a way to win in the 9th. Nevertheless, Renfroe accounted for 4 RBI’s on Wednesday and put on a good enough showing to possibly be picked up on waivers by a contender on Thursday. Overall, Renfroe has had a disappointing season for the Angels with just a .242 average, 19 home runs (7 of which he hit in the month of April), an OPS of .738, a WAR of just 1.0, and a WRC+ of 94.
Renfroe was supposed to be one of the Angels best hitters this season (as he’s had numerous 30 home run season over the last few years) but he has instead hit into an abundance of double plays and has one of the worst batting averages with runners in scoring position in all of baseball (less than .160). Perhaps Renfroe will play better for another team if he gets picked up off of waivers on Thursday.
The Angels will have Thursday off as they travel to Oakland to play a 3-game series vs. the Athletics that begins Friday. Patrick Sandoval will be on the mound vs. JP Sears on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 6:40 PM PST.