mlb

Patrick Sandoval notches another quality start as Angels defeat Padres 4-2

Brandon Sloter - The Sporting Tribune
Patrick Sandoval put together one of his best starts of the year and Zach Neto and Luis Rengifo stepped up when it mattered most as Angels won 4-2 against the Padres

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels defeated the Padres for a second-consecutive night as Patrick Sandoval put together a quality start, Luis Rengifo continued to rake at the plate, and Zach Neto came up big late with a 2-RBI double.

This was the first home-series win for the Angels of the 2024 season and they will look to complete their first sweep of the season at home as well on Wednesday. The Angels showed moxie and toughness late in games for the second night in a row, both wins being decided in the 7th inning or later on Monday and Tuesday night.

Here are my three takeaways from the game:

Patrick Sandoval struggled immensely to start the season entering last week’s matchup against the Yankees with a 5.60 ERA and 22 walks in 52.3 innings pitched on the year. However, Sandoval was able to shove against one of the best offenses in baseball going 6 innings of 2-run ball with one of those runs coming off of a home-run to Aaron Judge (the hottest hitter in baseball right now).

That was just his second quality start of the year and was a much needed mental reset for a pitcher that had dealt with control issues over the last few seasons.

Sandoval put together another quality start against the Padres on Tuesday night, tossing 6 innings of 1-run ball with 7 strikeouts and 3 walks. Though Sandoval’s confidence wavered on a few at bats when he got behind in the count, he actually got ahead in the count to 17 out of the 27 batters he faced.

That allowed him to control a lot of at-bats and use his changeup and sweeper (his put-away pitches) more often in non-hitters counts. Sandoval’s biggest issue this season has been getting behind in the count to hitters and either walking them or grooving pitches right down the middle which has resulted in the multitude of base-runners and inevitably runs he’s given up this year. In the postgame press conference I asked Ron Washington about Patrick Sandoval’s ability to go after hitters and how impressed he was with that:

“The most impressive thing about tonight was the competition that was in him, he was out there grinding, he had intent with everything he was doing tonight. That’s something I hope he can grow on because it’s in him”.

Patrick Sandoval still has a ways to go with an ERA of 5.00, but if the last two starts are any indication of what’s to come, Sandoval is poised for an impressive rest of the season in the Angels rotation.

Luis Rengifo has been a godsend for the Angels all season and he stepped up when it mattered yet again, driving in Luis Guillorme for the Angels’ first hit of the day in the 3rd inning to tie the game. Rengifo also hit another single in the bottom of the 8th inning and made a couple of extraordinary plays at 3rd-Base, a position he’s been filling in for Anthony Rendon at.

Rengifo has been able to excel at playing multiple positions and being an anchor in the Angels lineup that lacks star-power without Mike Trout. After another 2-hit performance, Rengifo is now hitting .329 with an OPS of .851 and 14 stolen-bases on the year and could be the Angels All-Star representative in Texas in July.

Zach Neto is already one of the best defensive shortstops in the MLB, but his offense is starting to heat up as of late, indicative of his game-winning 2-RBI double in the bottom of the 7th inning. Neto got out the first two times of the night before crushing a double over the head of Jurickson Profar in the bottom of the 7th inning.

He always stays poised, ready to deliver in big moments whether that’s on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Even his teammates were raving about his performance after the game with Patrick Sandoval touching on Neto’s confidence:

“His confidence never wavers, he’s been making sick plays at short. He came through tonight at the plate too”.

Neto always comes ready to play and now he’s an impressive 4-9 in his career with the bases loaded. In the clubhouse after the game, Neto was joyful and happy knowing that he came through for his teammates in an area where Angels hitters have struggled tremendously:

“Being able to come through like that when we struggle with runners in scoring position late in the game, it was huge, me giving back to my teammates is awesome.”

Regardless of the team record, Neto exemplifies exactly who the Angels want to be: A hard-nosed team that may not beat you on talent, but if you give let them stay in the game, they’ll punish you with their grit and grind mentality. A lot these close games haven’t materialized into wins quite yet, but Monday and Tuesday night were good examples of close games finally going their way.

Neto and the Angels will look to carry that momentum into the final game of the series against the Padres on Wednesday with Jose Soriano set to pitch against Dylan Cease. First pitch is scheduled for 6:38 PM PST.