Angels win 5th in a row as they survive a late Mariners rally

The Angels held off the Mariners by putting together one of their most complete wins of the season

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Is this the start of a run? Well, Angel fans sure hope so, and the team sure looks like they’re ready to. With a 5-4 win over the Mariners in the first game of this 3-game set, the Angels have won 5 consecutive games and find themselves slowly crawling back into contention.

It was a powerhouse of a matchup in Anaheim tonight with each team bringing their best arms to the game in Shohei Ohtani and Luis Castillo. It didn’t start well as both pitchers were shaky to start, giving up 2 runs each and not looking quite as dominant as we expected from them. Shohei walked 3 in the 1st inning and gave up a 2-run bomb to Jarred Kelenic, but provided his run support with a 2-run homer of his own in the 3rd to tie the game at 2. Anthony Rendon singled and later, Luis Rengifo came in clutch with an RBI single to put the Angels out front 3-2.

The Angels’ offense continued to get to Castillo, who boasts a 2.70 ERA now and took the loss tonight. Regarded as one of the best pitchers in the game, Luis Castillo just did not look like himself tonight, and the Angels continued to put pressure on the defense, something they were not doing as of late. Ty France tied the game back up for the Mariners quickly in the 5th with an RBI single of his own. However, the Angels took a punch and responded as Mickey Moniak, who has been a revelation in the Angels lineup, blasted a two-run homer to take the lead right back and put Castillo out of the game.

Fast forward to the 9th after Sam Bachman shut down the Mariners lineup for 2 innings, and the Angels sent out their lights-out closer, Carlos Estevez. Coming in, Estevez was 16/16 on save opportunities, and the Mariners didn’t seem to care. Mike Ford got revenge on his former team and launched a solo homer to make it 5-4. After getting a runner on second, Estevez showed why he’s dominant, shutting down the meat of the Mariners order, and giving the Angels the 5-4 victory. Whew.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

The marvel that is Shohei Ohtani  

I think that is all that needs to be said. Kidding of course, but Shohei continues to shine as he came a triple away from a cycle tonight at the plate. Oh yeah, he pitched tonight too. Ohtani threw 5 innings of 3-run ball, with 2 of those 3 coming in just the 1st inning. That doesn’t sound like a dominant performance, but he did just what Angel pitchers need to do: Be above average. All I’ve said from the start is that if the Angels only had slightly above-average pitching, their offense would be plenty, and this 5 game-winning streak is proving that they can be. This staff is led by Shohei and they lean on him, and while not always as good as last year, he provides above-average performance consistently.

The offense shows its true colors

Say what you want about the slump of Mike Trout, but this Angels lineup is much different than last year, and they need to be different. It seems like there is more of a sense of togetherness with this Angels lineup, or more, a sense of knowing their roles within it. Anthony Rendon is moving the baton, focusing on singles and gaps, Mickey Moniak is hitting for power and providing some left-handed clutch hitting, and Ohtani is still an elite hitter at the plate. Mike Trout is having one of his worst years so far, and it doesn’t matter because of the added depth of Gio Urshela, Hunter Renfroe, Mickey Monik, and Brandon Drury. This is a great sign for a lineup that needs to squeeze out all the performance it can get to stay competitive.

Front office showing a willingness to go all in   

Perry Minasian has taken plenty of heat for his decisions regarding the Angels roster. But in my opinion, he’s been the most important reason for their success right now. It sounds crazy I know, but look at who I just listed as major league depth. All of the Angels’ signings, trades, and call-ups are contributing in big ways. Zach Neto was just drafted in 2021 and is the full-time shortstop, Sam Bachman boasts a sub-2 ERA, and Ben Joyce is looking like one of the best relievers in the league already, although he left with right-hand irritation but should be fine and back ready in a few days. The Angels are putting the right guys on the field earlier and more often than in years past, and letting the young guys take full reigns for the rest of the year. It is a great refresh and something I’d like to see other clubs do.

The Angels will send Patrick Sandoval out to toe the mound against Bryan Woo for the Mariners Saturday. The first pitch is set for 7:07 PST.