The Angels bounced back from Saturday’s meltdown in a huge way, relying on their two superstars, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, to lead the way on offense and win the three game series vs. the Royals on Sunday afternoon. Tyler Anderson got through 5 innings and only gave up 2 runs (something he hasn’t done a lot this season), and Jaime Barria and Carlos Estevez shut it down in the bullpen as the relievers had a comeback performance following Saturday’s collapse.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Ohtani and Trout both homer in back-to-back fashion
Mike Trout hadn’t hit a home run since June 7th until Sunday…can you believe that? A player of his caliber going without a home run for 10 straight games is ridiculous. Nonetheless, not only did Trout smash his 15th home run of the year, but he also walked (something he’s been doing a lot indicative of his almost .370 OBP despite his .257 batting average) and hit a scorching double which led to the team’s first run. Trout goes through slumps every year, but he was really struggling this time around in the month of June. Either way, Trout looks like he’s feeling better and is more confident at the plate, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to get extra base hits against the Dodgers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
For Shohei Ohtani, he hit yet another home run (his 24th of the year) in the top of the 5th inning, just before Trout, and looks unstoppable at the plate right now. In the month of June alone Ohtani has hit .400 with 9 home runs, 20 RBI’s, 14 walks, and 26 hits, and on the season Ohtani’s OPS is up to 1.016 (the best mark in the MLB). Why pitchers continue to give Ohtani anything to hit is beyond me, but Shohei continues to will the Angels to victories and is the clear frontrunner for the AL MVP (and would be even if he didn’t pitch again this season). Furthermore, if Trout can continue to hit and not fall into these mini slumps we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, that will mean less pressure on Ohtani at the plate and Trout’s confidence will continue to increase.
Drury continues to rake
If yesterday’s 2 homer performance wasn’t enough to convince you Brandon Drury is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now, perhaps his 2 hits including an RBI single that put the Angels on the board will. Drury also made an excellent play to get out of the inning with two outs and a guy on first, diving for a ball up the middle and flipping it to Andrew Velasquez for a force out to prevent another runner from getting on base.
That allowed the Angels to smoothly transition to Carlos Estevez in the 9th, especially after Jared Walsh’s pinch hit home run (his first homer on the season) to extend the lead to 3 runs. Furthermore, Drury has been instrumental in the Angels winning 11 out of their last 14 games as he’s hit .333 with 21 hits and 10 RBI’s in the month of June, and on the year has raised his average to .267 with 12 homers, 37 RBI’s, and an OPS of .811. If Drury can continue to be consistent in the 4 or 5 hole, depending on where Anthony Rendon hits when he returns, the Angels will have some breathing room to not solely rely on Trout and Ohtani at the top of the order.
Jaime Barria and Carlos Estevez showcase bounce back day for bullpen
The Angels pen was atrocious on Saturday giving up 8 eared runs and letting the Royals (who had lost 10 games in a row entering the contest) come back to win. Chris Devenski had his first bad performance in a month and Jose Soriano faced struggles in the big leagues for the first time. Both of those guys were unhittable through the month of June so far, and it remains to be seen which versions of them Angels fans will see in their next appearances.
However, the Angels pen reminded everyone on Sunday why they had the lowest ERA of any bullpen in baseball in the month of June entering this three game series. Jaime Barria and Carlos Estevez combined for 4 shutout innings pitched and only two hits and one walk allowed and the Royals struggled to get anyone on base in the final 4 innings. Barria, usually the team’s 6th starter, was able to pitch in long relief out of the pen due to the Angels day off Monday and Reid Detmers and Ohtani being pushed up a day to start vs. the Dodgers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This allowed most of the already exhausted arms in the pen to rest, and provided Estevez with a get-back save opportunity after his first abysmal performance of the year Thursday against the Rangers where he walked the first three batters of the inning before Jacob Webb came in to get the save. Sunday’s performance was Estevez’s 19th save on the season and he boasts an ERA of 1.74 in 31 innings on the season overall. Estevez has been one of the best closers in baseball and will likely be heading to Seattle for the All Star Game on July 11th.
The Angels have Monday off while they head home to Anaheim and they’ll begin a two game series at the Big A against the Dodgers on Tuesday night with Reid Detmers set to start against Clayton Kershaw. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PST Tuesday night.