Griffin Canning continues to find his groove on hill

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
After missing last season due to injury, the 27-year-old starter is making the most of every start and finding success along the way.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Angels starter Griffin Canning made a return to the mound earlier this season and following his tenth start on Sunday afternoon, it looks like he’s found a groove that works. 

In their final game of the series against the Seattle Mariners, the 27-year-old righty threw five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and recording seven strikeouts. 

“It was good enough to keep the team in the game, and they gave me some time with a nice lead there,” said Canning after the game.

Though not his best performance of the season, Canning continues to show promise as one of the stronger starting arms in the rotation — an impressive turn of events considering his past bouts with injury. 

Signed by the organization in 2017, Canning appeared in 43 games across the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons before a stress fracture in his lower back landed him on the IL for the final two months of the 2021 season and the entirety of the 2022 season. 

After recovering from his back injury, Canning returned to the mound during spring training this year where he showed signs of a complete comeback, starting four games and earning a 1.32 ERA. Over 13.2 total innings pitched, he allowed three runs on 11 hits with three walks and 13 strikeouts. However, his spring training momentum was cut short by a left groin strain that caused him to miss the first 11 games of the season.

Canning made his season debut on April 12 against the Washington Nationals, powering through five innings and allowing two runs on five hits and four strikeouts. Since that debut, he’s continued to hone his command of the hill. He had his best outing of the season against the Red Sox on May 23 when he threw seven shutout innings and allowed only two hits. 

Today, he led the Halos to a 9-4 victory after starting the game by throwing three shutout innings, including a successful pickoff throw to first baseman, Jared Walsh. 

“He was outstanding. He used all of his pitches really well. He was in the zone and attacked hitters,” said starting catcher Matt Thaiss. “His fastball command was probably the best I’ve seen so far this year.”

Canning said after the game that his fastball felt good early on, but a couple of them got away from toward the end of his day: “I think the last couple of innings probably got away from me a little bit, but yeah, I’ve just been on a really good page.”

Three of the earned runs penciled into Canning’s final line came in the fourth and fifth innings when Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer into left field, and Mike Ford hit his second home run of the series. 

Canning’s day started to unravel slightly in the sixth after he gave up two hits, which is when he handed the game off to Chris Devenski, who has found success coming into games with runners on base. With runners on first and second, Devenski limited Seattle’s offense to one run after Eugenio Suárez hit a sacrifice fly that scored Ty France. He retired the last batter with the bases loaded.  

Canning’s successful outing today and another effective day for the bullpen matched nicely with the Angels offense, which made significant hard-contact hits early in the game against Seattle starter, Logan Gilbert. Taylor Ward, who has been inching his way back from an offensive slump, started the game with a leadoff homer, his third career leadoff home run and the second one this season. 

Brandon Drury followed his lead with a double driven into right field, and an RBI single from Thaiss gave the Angels a two-run lead by the close of the first. However, the Angels were not done yet. 

Zach Neto got a hold of a fastball from Gilbert and launched it 421 feet into left field to mark his fourth home run of the season, but that wasn’t the only time one of Neto’s hits saw the other side of the outfield fence today. He hit his fifth home run of the season in the eighth inning off reliever Chris Flexen — a 384-foot blast into left field. 

“I feel great,” said Neto about his first career multi-homer game. “I felt really good in the box and I put two good swings on the ball, so it was a good day.” 

In the third inning, Shohei Ohtani extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single, and  Mike Trout snapped an 0-for-14 streak with a single before Thaiss tacked on an RBI double to bring them both home and leave the Angels with a comfortable lead. Hunter Renfroe, who was back in the lineup for the first time last night after being activated from the paternity list, added on an additional run with an RBI double to score Thaiss.

With the bases loaded in fourth, Trout just nearly missed a grand slam, but his sac fly hit hard to right field contributed a run to the Halos game-winning nine runs, as did Brandon Drury’s RBI single in the eighth that scored Ward. 

“The pitchers are pitching amazing. The bullpen is holding its own and our defense is holding its own too. We were playing all around good baseball and that’s going to win you games,” said Neto.