Strong 8th inning propels Angels to win over Rays

The Angels score five runs in the eighth inning to beat the Rays.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. โ€” The bats successfully made the trip for the Angels from Boston to Tampa Bay.

A five-run eighth inning led to a 7-3 win for the Angels over the Rays in the series opener. The Angels had 13 hits and scored all seven of their runs in the final two innings of the game.

Mike Trout hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning to give the Angels a 2-1 lead. The home run was Trout’s seventh of the season. He is tied with Tyler O’Neill of the Red Sox and Marcell Ozuna of the Braves for the most in the major leagues.

Matt Thaiss had his biggest hit of the season with a three-run double in the eighth to give the Angels some breathing room with a 5-1 lead.

Taylor Ward hit a two-run home run in the ninth to give the Angels a 7-3 lead. His 19 RBI are the most in the American League and the second most in MLB behind Ozuna’s 21.

Here are some quick takeaways from Monday’s win:

Encouraging outing for Sandoval

Patrick Sandoval didn’t have his best stuff on Monday, but did enough to keep the Angels in the game.

He allowed four hits and one run through five innings with three strikeouts and two walks. Sandoval escaped a jam in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. He got out of the inning with just one run allowed and stranded two runners in scoring position.

The advanced metrics are encouraging for Sandoval. His FIP (fielder independent fielding) was 2.76 entering Monday which is considerably lower than his 6.57 ERA. FIP is generally a good predictor of future production and means that Sandoval has battled some bad luck this season.

Trout silences critics

There had been some chatter on social media about Trout’s ability to perform in clutch situations.

His previous 10 home runs were all solo shots dating back to 2023 and Trout himself told media Sunday he needs to be better in the clutch.

His two-run home run Monday gave the Angels the lead in a game in which the team struggled against Rays righty Zach Eflin.

Trout is in elite company. He is one of three Angels in history to hit seven home runs in the first 16 games of the season joining Ted Kluszewski (1961) and Brian Downing (1987).

Ward racking up the RBIs

Ward’s 19 RBIs lead the American League and his six home runs are second in the league behind O’Neill and Trout.

His 19 RBIs this season are the most for any Angels player through 16 games since Don Baylor had 23 in 1979.

Angels bullpen delivers (mostly)

Luis Garcia pitched a perfect seventh inning for the Angels to earn his first win of the season and lower his ERA to 7.20.

The win was the first for Garcia since Sep. 20 of 2023 with the San Diego Padres.

Matt Moore gave up a two-run home run to Harold Ramirez in the eighth. After a mound visit from Ron Washington, Moore retired the next three hitters to preserve the lead.

Carlos Estevez didn’t earn a save Monday, but pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts. He still hasn’t allowed an earned run this season in five innings of work.