Sandoval struggles as Twins fall to Angels

Kiyoshi Mio - USA Today Sports
Patrick Sandoval struggled again and the Angels couldn't do enough at the plate against a dominant Bailey Ober

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Patrick Sandoval, who has struggled so far this season despite being the team’s opening day starter, stumbled again as the Minnesota Twins collected 11 hits and defeated the Angels 5-3 at Angel Stadium on Friday night.

The Twins have an underwhelming record of 11-13 (even though they were preseason AL Central favorites), but got to Sandoval for nine hits.

Though Zach Neto had three hits and Nolan Schanuel had a clutch RBI in the eighth inning, the Angels just couldn’t muster much offense. Twins starter Bailey Ober allowed three hits in 7 1/3 innings after throwing no-hit ball for the first five innings.

The Angels (10-16) are now six games under .500 for the first time this season. They have lost seven their last eight games.

Here are some postgame takeaways:

Sandoval gave up three earned in 1 2/3 innings of work on opening day and last weekend gave up seven earned runs against the Reds in four innings pitched. Sandoval also has failed to pitch into the seventh inning this year, frequently struggling with high pitch counts.

All six of his starts have been marred by four or more hits and six-plus hits in three of them.

Friday night was no different. He allowed four earned runs — two of which could have been avoided if it wasn’t for miscues — but also didn’t walk anyone for the first time all year.

Angels manager Ron Washington thought Sandoval did a lot of things well.

“I thought he did a great job, he kept us in the ballgame,” he said. “In no point during the outing did I think we were out of it, when we did get opportunities at the plate we just did minimal damage.”

Sandoval minimizing damage but he was bothered by high pitch counts throughout.

“The homer was too much of the plate. (I) tried to get it right, a lot of two-strike, two-out hits,” he said. “Just didn’t execute some of those pitches.”

Sandoval now has a 6.33 ERA through ix starts and isn’t living up to his 2022 production, when he had a 2.91 ERA in 148 2/3 innings. Sandoval isn’t happy with how he’s pitched this season.

“I gotta do more,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m pulling my weight. I wanna help us win.”

Neto, the Angels prized shortstop prospect, is hitting his stride, launching two doubles (one off of the wall and one down the line) and one clutch single to drive in a run in the ninth inning. This comes after a great showing in the Orioles series earlier this week when Neto hit a combined 5 for 9 with a home-run and two doubles and he has 8 hits in his last 13 at-bats .

“He’s coming along, starting to use whole field,” Washington said. “Starting to see bat speed. He wasn’t letting the baseball come to him, now it’s working better, he’s more patient. He’s staring to use the opposite field.”

Neto is batting ninth and a move up in the lineup is possible if he continues to hit like this.

Trout continues to struggle with runners on base this season (hence his 10 home runs and 13 RBIs). He again found trouble in the ninth inning with with two runners on and two outs and trailing by two runs, grounding into a fielder’s choice.

“He may be putting too much pressure on himself,” Washington said. “He’s just got to relax and not try to put the team on his back. Just play the game.

“I would have taken a single there, but I just know he was trying to win the game.”

Anthony Rendon hasn’t played more than 58 games a year since signing a seven-year $245 million contract in 2019 with the Angels. Now, after playing the first 19 games of the season Rendon has returned to the injured list with a hamstring issue.

Originally, the injury wasn’t expected to require an extended time to recover. However, it was revealed Friday that Rendon had been diagnosed with a high-grade left hamstring tear and would require more than just the initial 10 days required to return.

“I’m definitely not going back in the 10-day window” Rendon said before the game.

There is no definitive timetable for Rendon’s return, but based on his response, it’s going to be a long time before he’s back in the Angels lineup.

Rendon had become one of the Angels’ consistent hitters over the last three weeks, going 17 for 43 with a .395 batting average.

“It’s been four years running now, so I was angry for a few days, frustrated, mad, everything you could imagine because the game keeps getting taken away from me,” he said. “I want to win, and I want to be out there”.

Miguel Sano has been filling in for Rendon at third base and doing a solid job with a .713 OPS. However, he felt his knee hurting him in the second inning and had to leave the game with Ehrie Adrianza replacing him.

“After his second at bat he said his knee was acting up again,” Washington said. “I don’t know if he will end up on the injured list.”

The Angels will look to bounce back at 6:38 p.m. Saturday against the Twins as Jose Soriano is set to face off against Chris Paddack on the mound.

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