Angels win behind huge games from Rengifo, Moniak

Luis Rengifo's home-run and RBI single and Mickey Moniak's bases clearing double led the Angels to a 6-2 victory over the Cubs Wednesday night.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels have now won the first two games of this series and are looking for a sweep against the Chicago Cubs tomorrow night. This was a team effort as Luis Rengifo had 2 big hits (including a home run) and Mickey Moniak had a bases clearing double to extend the lead in the bottom of the 6th inning. Jaime Barria threw 5 innings of 2 run ball and though Ben Joyce got into trouble in the top of the 6th (bases were loaded), he was able to get out of it (and pick up his first big league win) before a shut out 7th inning for Aaron Loup and 2 shut out innings for Rookie Sam Bachman.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Moniak breaks out of slump in a big way

Mickey Moniak was the Angels best hitter for two weeks when he made his season debut a few weeks back, launching 4 homers and a few other huge extra-base hits in that span. However, Moniak had gone just 3 for his last 22 and has been battling for playing time to stay in the Majors. There is always pressure on Moniak to perform with Hunter Renfroe, Taylor Ward, and Mike Trout on the roster, but also with former top prospect Jo Adell on his tail as well (Adell was called up on Wednesday and will likely start tomorrow in place of Moniak against LHP Drew Smyly).

There isn’t much room for error, and Moniak stepped up in a big way on Wednesday night launching a bases clearing double with two outs in the bottom of the 6th inning to give the Angels a 6-2 lead. After the game Moniak shared his thoughts on what was going through his head before the double “I was trying to put that ball in play with two strikes. Got the pitch I was looking for, and delivered. I’ve been feeling pretty good at the plate recently”. Moniak is right, as he had been smoking the ball and just hadn’t gotten luck to go his way until the bottom of the 6th inning Wednesday night. Even on his previous at bat prior to the double, Moniak just missed a home-run, hitting it to the warning track off of Jameson Taillon in the bottom of the 5th inning.

If his hitting wasn’t enough justification for him to be an every-day player, Moniak also made one of the most impressive catches all year going into the stands on a ball hit foul to snag an out for the Angels. Later on in the top of the 8th inning, Moniak made a diving catch to prevent a single. Though the sample size is small (just 56 AB’s) Moniak has an outstanding OPS of .982 with 10 RBI’S this season. Wednesday night showed how important Moniak is to the Angels and what a spark he can continue to be if given playing time.

Rengifo hot streak continues

Luis Rengifo hit a solo home-run to dead center on the first pitch of his at bat in the 5th inning off Jameson Taillon, but his big day didn’t stop there. In a 2-2 game the following inning, Rengifo hit an RBI single off Mark Leiter Jr. and drove in catcher Matt Thaiss. Rengifo has sparked the Angels offense two of the last three games getting them back into the game with solo shots.

On Sunday, in the series finale against the Houston Astros, Rengifo blasted a solo home-run to break up J.P. France’s no hitter. With all of the positional versatility the Angels have, some fans and media members were wondering if Rengifo would get DFA’d because of Gio Urshela, Brandon Drury, Anthony Rendon, and Zach Neto being on the roster, but they continue to find room for him because of his bat, on Wednesday night in left field in place for the under the weather Taylor Ward. After the game, Angels manager Phil Nevin shared his thoughts on Rengifo’s improvements as a hitter “he’s cut down his chase rate, he’s swinging at the right pitches, getting aggressive early in the at bat, and he’s becoming a more cerebral player”. If Rengifo continues to hit like this, he will have to be in the lineup every night.

Trout has a stellar game on offense and defense

Not only did he hit a home-run to break a 0-0 tie in the 4th inning, but Mike Trout also made two game saving plays in center field robbing two Cubs of at least off the wall doubles and possibly two home-runs. After his 7th inning robbery of Miguel Amaya, the following play Matt Mervis hit one to the gap and Trout called off left-fielder Luis Rengifo to make an impressive catch that took away a triple.

Though Trout struck out with Shohei Ohtani on third base in the bottom of the 5th inning and another time with no one on to start the bottom of the 7th inning, he did enough by hitting his 14th home-run of the year and making three incredible catches in the outfield. Many people will say we witnessed vintage MVP Mike Trout on Wednesday night, and I absolutely agree.

The Angels will look for the series sweep Thursday night vs. the Cubs as Reid Detmers will be on the mound to face Drew Smyly for the Cubs. First pitch is set for 6:38 PM at Angel Stadium.