Angels sweep Yankees for first time since 2009

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Chase Silseth was called up from AAA and dominated on Wednesday afternoon striking out 10 as the Angels won 7-3 against the Yankees.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels finished off the New York Yankees for a much needed sweep Wednesday, considering the two heartbreaking losses against the Houston Astros over the weekend.

In fact, it was the first time the Angels have swept the Yankees since 2009 and it couldn’t have come at a better time for a team trying to get back into the playoff race before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The Angels also set a record for strikeouts over a three-game series with 42 against the Yankees.

Offensively, the Angels (49-48) tied a franchise record by homering for the 18th consecutive game and are 4 1/2 games behind the Astros and Blue Jays for the second and third wild-card spots. The team has a a chance to make a push over the next six games with a three-game home series against the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates beginning Friday and then a three-game road series against Detroit Tigers .

Here are three takeaways from the Wednesday’s game:

Chase Silseth was dominant

Chase Silseth had a great start to 2022 but never looked as dominant as he did Wednesday against the Yankees. Silseth worked on his slider a lot over the last few months in at triple-A Salt Lake City, dropping 3 mph off the pitch to create more horizontal break and depth. Silseth also worked on getting more sink on his fastball and that also took away some speed. With more movement on his two best pitches, Silseth toyed with the Yankees lineup, striking out 10 batters over 5 2/3 innings.

A lot of his strikeouts came on the slider, and his fastball was forcing soft contact as well. Though Silseth threw six shutout innings against the Oakland Athletics in his major league debut in May 2022, he gave up four or more earned runs in all but one of his remaining starts before being sent down to the minors. This year at Salt Lake, Silseth has an ERA of 2.79 in 42 innings, but if Wednesday’s start is any indication of how he will look on the mound over the next few weeks, the Angels are going to need Silseth to be a spot starter or a long reliever.

Luis Rengifo has monster game

Luis Rengifo has gotten a lot of criticism from Angels fans about his production this season, considering last year when he hit .264 with 17 home runs and an OPS of .723. This season, Rengifo is hitting just .214 with seven home runs and an OPS of .649, but his production has increased dramatically recently. Rengifo has a .907 OPS over his last 55 plate appearances and is 6 for 16 with three home runs against left-handed pitchers over that stretch.

On Saturday, Rengifo hit a three-run home run against Framber Valdez, a Cy Young Award candidate, and on Wednesday Rengifo continued his hot stretch against left-handers with a 407-foot, two-run home run to center field off of Carlos Rodon. That gave the Angels an early 4-0 lead and they never looked back. It is also important to note that each of the switch-hitting Rengifo’s last two home runs have come as a right-hander. Though Rengifo is being used as a reserve, he has kept his momentum and stepped up lately in big moments for the Angels when given the opportunity.

Taylor Ward continues to rake

Taylor Ward put the Angels on top with a two-run home run in the first inning, driving in Shohei Ohtani (who ended up walking four times) and also gave the team an insurance run late with a ground-rule double to extend the lead to 7-3. Ward hasn’t had the season many Angels fans had hoped, considering he hit .281 with 23 home runs and an OPS of .833 last season, proving he was a pivotal part of the team moving forward. This year, Ward is hitting just .248 with 11 home runs and an OPS of .727, but he has been in a groove recently with two homers and nine hits over his last seven games.

Ward has always been a streaky hitter, with most of his production last season coming in April/May and August/September, and this year it has been somewhat similar. In April and June, Ward hit just .206 and .261, respectively, but in May and July, he hit .261 and .302 (so far). Ward hasn’t been as streaky as last season, with an abysmal April and pretty consistent months of May and June, but his July resurgence has helped the Angels immensely. Ward is a player the Angels rely upon at the top of their lineup and anytime he is in a groove at the plate, it seems to carry over to the rest of the lineup. If Ward can continue his July production the rest of the season, it no doubt will be a boost to a lineup depleted by injuries.

The Angels will have Thursday off before the Pirates come to town for a three-game series beginning Friday night. Ohtani will be on the mound against Johan Oviedo with the first pitch scheduled for 6:38 p.m. PT.