Canning struggles as Angels fall short against Red Sox

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The Angels faced a big early deficit and were never able to catch up.

It was a successful Friday for the Halos, who started the series off with a nice 7-0 win to open up their 10-game road trip. They squared off with the Red Sox in the second game of the series on Saturday afternoon as they looked to keep the momentum rolling with Griffin Canning getting the start.

Unfortunately, Boston put runs on the board early and often, with a monster home run from Triston Casas highlighting a four-run first for the Red Sox. A pair of singles in the second from Wilyer Abreu and Masataka Yoshida would bring across two more for Boston as they made it a 6-0 game in the blink of an eye.

The momentum for the Angels the rest of the way seemed to take a hit as the squad managed just two runs in the game thanks to a homer from Taylor Ward in the third. Mike Trout finished 0-4 with a strikeout as Los Angeles ultimately fell 7-2 and Boston evened the series at one game a piece.

Here are three takeaways:

Griffin Canning gets tagged for 6 earned runs

The 2024 season has not been kind to Angels’ starter Griffin Canning thus far. The 27-year-old posted a career-high 22 starts last season, tallying a 4.32 ERA with a 7-8 record. Poised to play an even bigger role in the pitching staff this season, he started the year off with a pair of disappointing starts. In games against the Orioles and Red Sox, he allowed five and four runs respectively to quickly collect an 0-1 start to the year and a lot of negative momentum. Canning saw more of the same on Saturday afternoon in Boston as the Red Sox jumped on him early. A one-out double for Wilyer Abreu got things going in the first before Masataka Yoshida would bring him home to score the first run of the game on a single to right field. Triston Casas then stepped up to the plate and delivered a mammoth two-run home run to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead just four batters into the game.

Later on in the inning, an infield single from Cedanne Rafaela made it a 4-0 ballgame as Canning’s outing immediately turned sour. It was more of the same in the second as Wilyer Abreu’s RBI single made it 5-0 and Masataka Yoshida’s double made it 6-0. By the time things were all said and done, Canning had gone four innings and allowed six earned runs (seven toal) on nine hits. His ERA this season has ballooned up to 9.88, which is the worst such mark among Angels’ starters. He is just the third pitcher in franchise history to allow four or more earned runs in no more than five innings throughout each of his first three starts. While the season is still young, Canning certainly needs to find a way to turn things around before the Angels decide to send him down to the minor leagues to find his groove again.

Ward’s 2-RBI day boosts him atop the American League

A big reason for the Angels’ 7-7 start to the season has been the bat of Taylor Ward. The seven-year vet has gotten off to a promising start thus far, posting a .310 average with five home runs. He finished 2-4 at the plate on Saturday, including a 2-run homer in the third inning that gave the Angels their only runs of the game.

The 407-foot blast to left-center lifted Ward to 16 RBIs this season, putting him ahead of all other players in the American League. He is just two behind Spencer Steer’s league-leading mark of 18. The production for Ward so far this season is certainly a welcoming sight for a player who has seen his role increase quite a bit since the 2022 season. He blasted 23 homers and gathered 65 RBI across 135 games in 2022, but his 2023 was limited to just 97 games. Ward still managed to hit 14 home runs and provide 47 RBI as he looked ahead to the 2024 campaign. All expectations for the 30-year-old have been lived up to thus far, and although Los Angeles came up short on Saturday, his efforts were appreciated.

Bottom of the lineup goes silent

It was a rough day of hitting in the 5-9 spots of the lineup for the Angels, which combined for just four hits all game long. Aaron Hicks (0-4), Brandon Drury (1-4), Mickey Moniak (1-3), Jo Adell (0-1), Logan O’Hoppe (2-3) and Zach Neto (0-3) went a combined 4-18 (.222) as the lineup failed to string hits together. While the team did manage 8 hits compared to Boston’s 11, they could not seem to deliver when it mattered. Los Angeles went 1-5 with runners in scoring position, including a big groundout from Zach Neto in the top of the second inning with the bases loaded.

This has been a glaring issue for the squad so far this season despite their 7-7 record. With runners in scoring position throughout the first 14 games, the Angels are hitting just .229 as a club. They’ve left runners on base in clutch situations and failed to capitalize overall with ducks on the pond. Their opponents, the Boston Red Sox, have been an opposite story thus far. Boston is hitting .291 in such situations, giving them the 8th-best mark in the league. They went 4-8 with RISP on Saturday afternoon, cashing in when they needed to. Los Angeles simply cannot afford to leave runners on base at such a frequent level if they want to remain competitive the rest of the way.

The squad will face Boston for the final time in the series on Sunday morning as they look to take the rubber match and win their first series since the early days of April. Tyler Anderson will get the start for Los Angeles while the team’s lineup squares off against Boston’s Brayan Bello.

First pitch is scheduled for 10:35 A.M. PT.