Ohtani’s late RBI double lifts Angels over Astros, 2-1

Griffin Canning threw 6 innings of 1 run ball and Shohei Ohtani stepped up late as the Angels defeated the Astros in Houston on Sunday.

It wasn’t the perfect weekend for the Los Angeles Angels, but they ended their four-game series against the Houston Astros on a high note. Going into Sunday’s series finale, the Angels were outscored 20-10 by the Astros in the first three games of the series, and many people were questioning if the Halos could get even one game against Houston. Behind a stellar start from Griffin Canning, a home-run from Luis Rengifo, and a game-winning RBI double from Shohei Ohtani, they were able to silence the critics for at least one day. This Angels 2-1 win over the Astros on Sunday was a complete one, as the whole team stepped up with good starting and relief pitching, the back end of the lineup producing timely runs (Rengifo), and their stars stepping up in big moments (Ohtani).

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Griffin Canning is in a groove right now

Griffin Canning pitched 6 innings of 1 run ball in Sundays win over the Astros, giving up just 4 hits and 1 walk while doing so. This was Canning’s third quality start in a row after starting off the year with some shaky performances. But even when he wasn’t pitching to the level he is capable of, Canning was able to get through 5 innings almost every start (hasn’t gotten through 5 only once this season). Canning has been a highly touted pitcher ever since his dominant UCLA days where he accumulated a 2.99 ERA and 301 strikeouts in 292 innings in his career.

Canning was selected with the 47th overall pick in the 2017 Draft by the Angels, and cruised through the minors before dealing with a few injuries over the last few years at the MLB level. Canning now owns an ERA of 4.47 with 43 strikeouts and 15 walks in 43.1 innings pitched this year. For an Angels team that needs starting pitchers not named Shohei Ohtani to be reliable and keep them in games when the offense isn’t clicking, Canning’s consistency is an excellent sign for a team trying to make the playoffs. With Canning, Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval and Jaime Barria all pitching well for the most part, the only other starting pitcher who needs to step up and show any sort of resemblance from his dominance last season is Tyler Anderson.

Devenski and Estevez dominate yet again

Both Chris Devenski and Carlos Estevez have been excellent this year and showed it again on Sunday as Devenski got the win (since Canning came out in a 1-1 game) tossing 1.2 innings of shut out ball with 2 strikeouts, 0 walks, and 1 hit given up, while Estevez came in for the last out in the 8th and dominated through the 9th, finishing with 1.1 innings pitched giving up just 1 walk and 0 hits to get the save.

Devenski now has an ERA of 2.45 with 18 K’s in 18.1 innings pitched, while Estevez has a 1.42 ERA with 32 K’s and 14 saves in 26.2 innings pitched. Perhaps Ben Joyce and Sam Bachman, the young and ultra talented flame-throwers, will be able to be consistent in the upcoming weeks, but for now Devenski and Estevez are the 8th and 9th inning guys respectively (while Moore remains on the IL) and have stepped up in a big way this season.

Luis Rengifo is on a hot streak right now

Not many guys in the back end of the Angels lineup have produced recently, but Luis Rengifo is starting to show why he was batting 3rd last season when Mike Trout and Ohtani were absent from the lineup. Despite the Angels dropping 3 out of 4 games to the Astros this weekend, Rengifo stayed consistent piling up 3 hits in Saturday’s loss alone and 5 hits overall in the series (he didn’t play on Thursday).

Rengifo hitting is a great sign for the Angels, considering Anthony Rendon is still hurt, and now they platoon more guys to give players like Brandon Drury, Rendon (when he returns this week), Zach Neto, and Gio Urshela more rest when need be. Rengifo struggled at the plate to start this season, but after this weekend his average is up to .221 and he’s knocked in 21 RBI’s despite not being a typical everyday player.

Though many Angels fans have wondered if Rengifo will be DFA’d (Designated for Assignment) because of the teams infield depth, the Angels continue to be patient with Rengifo and agains Houston it paid off. Last season, Rengifo had a career year hitting .264 with 17 home runs and 129 hits, showcasing his upside at the plate. Though the Angels will need to see much more consistency from Rengifo to warrant giving him playing time, this weekend was a fantastic start.

The Angels now head home to play the Cubs in a 3 game series that starts Tuesday night at Angel Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:38 PM PST.