The Angels were having an abysmal weekend going into Sunday’s crucial series finale against the Blue Jays. They had lost two straight games without getting a base runner home in scoring position, and they had the same problem on Sunday. Entering the 10th inning, the Angels had gone 0-27 overall with runners in scoring position in the 3-game series, but luckily for them, the Jays went just 1-12 with runners in scoring position on Sunday as well, keeping the game in reach.
Tyler Anderson had arguably his best start of the year going 6.1 innings pitched and giving up just 1 run, the Angels’ relievers dominated on Sunday when it mattered, and Hunter Renfroe came up huge in the top of the 10th to lead the Angels to a much needed 3-2 victory on Sunday. Now 55-51, the Angels are now 4 games back of the Blue Jays entering a pivotal series against the best team in baseball on Monday, the Atlanta Braves.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Hunter Renfroe continues his hot streak
Hunter Renfroe has been the hottest hitter on the Angels not named Shohei Ohtani recently. Dating back to Thursday’s doubleheader vs. the Tigers, Renfroe had a 6 hit day over that doubleheader and continued that momentum into the Blue Jays series where he collected 5 hits over the 3-game series including a game-winning 2-run home run in the top of the 10th inning on Sunday.
From July 16th-25th Renfroe had just 1 hit in 23 at bats, and many Angels fans wondered whether he’d be moved prior to August 1st’s trade deadline. Safe to say now that Renfroe is the hottest hitter on the team and the Angels are in dire need of outfielders with Taylor Ward and Mike Trout on the IL, Renfroe will not be traded and instead relied upon for a multitude of the lineups production moving forward.
Carlos Estevez saves the day
On Sunday Carlos Estevez showed why he is one of the best closers in baseball pitching a 1-2-3 9th inning against the heart of the Jays lineup then coming out for the 10th and finishing the Jays off. Overall, Estevez threw 2 innings, struck out 2, and gave up just 1 hit and 1 walk. However, the 10th inning was far from easy as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a rocket single to drive in the ghost runner at second to make the game 3-2 before Matt Chapman drew a walk to put the game-winning run at first base with 0 outs.
Estevez then struck out the next two batters before getting Danny Jansen to fly out to left field for the final out of the game. Estevez threw 34 pitches over 2 innings and most of them were fastballs the Jays simply couldn’t hit. With a 5-1 record, 23 saves, and an ERA of just 1.88 in 43 innings pitched, the All-Star Angels closer continues to reliable in high leverage situations and is one of the biggest reasons why the Halos are still in the playoff race.
RISP continues to be a problem
Before Renfroe’s 2-run home run in the top of the 10th inning, the Angels went 0-27 with runners in scoring position in the series. It is also important to note that the 1 hit they got with runners in scoring position in this entire series was because they had a ghost runner on second base due to the extra innings rule. The Angels had runners on 1st and 2nd in the 8th inning with just 1 out and Eduardo Escobar flew out before Trey Cabbage struck out swinging. Prior to his strikeout Cabbage almost blew the game open with a double down the line, but it went just foul, continuing the bad luck for the Angels this weekend.
It is a miracle the Angels were able to even win a game this series going 1-27 with RISP, and if they want to compete against the best team in baseball on Monday, they need to be better in situational hitting. If they don’t make adjustments at the plate in the next series, they will get swept by the Braves and be just one game over .500 entering the Mariners series on Thursday.