by BJ Martin, Angels Nation Staff
Joe Maddon has been preaching aggressive baserunning all spring. Wednesday a group of Angels hitters fighting for spots on the roster did their best to impress their skipper.
Carving out three runs in the first three innings. Finding opportunities to take the extra base, moving runners, and executing successful small ball.
Luis Rengifo, Juan Lagares, Kurt Suzuki, Jon Jay, and Franklin Barreto all contributed to the assertive play. All but Suzuki find themselves battling for a roster spot this spring.
Rengifo and Barreto would both have successful steals of second base as they battle for job as the team’s fifth infielder. Barreto would later be caught attempting to steal his second base of the day in the sixth.
Aggressive pitching was also key to the Angels 4-2 victory in eight innings of baseball Wednesday in Goodyear, Arizona.
Alex Cobb and Patrick Sandoval combining for six innings of four hit, eight strikeout baseball.
An encouraging sign for a team in need of deep starting pitching going into the 2021 regular season.
The ‘Brief Breakdown’:
Alex Cobb was very effective through the first three innings of his outing versus the Indians starting line-up. He utilized a nice mix of his change-up splitter, fastball, and curve. Inducing ground balls that led to more outs than base runners.
According to The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya, Cobb’s fastball was reaching between 93-94 mph on the radar during the game.
“Everything has felt like I had stuff in the tank the past several years,” Cobb would state following the outing. “(Today) the ball is coming out good…jumping really good. You can kind of tell when you have life on your fastball. Whether you are throwing with life or not.”
Cobb’s only run surrendered courtesy of a two-out change-up Carlos Hernandez drove to left field for an RBI single in the third.
The righty retired Eduardo Rosario, Franmil Reyes, Roberto Perez, and Orlando Mercado each by strikeout. He would finish three innings on 44 pitches. Surrendering only two hits a walk, while striking out four Indians.
Nasty stuff from Cobb today. https://t.co/hBY0to6NW7
— Halo Life ⚾ (@_HaloLife) March 11, 2021
Cobb would take the field in the bottom of the fourth, surrendering a lead-off single to MVP finalist Jose Ramirez. Patrick Sandoval would enter the game, inheriting Cobb’s base-runner at first.
The young southpaw is looking setting himself up well for a spot as a LOOGY for the Angels. Only, he most definitely capable of getting more than just one batter out.
He quickly allowed a hit to Eddie Rosario, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Suzuki would gun down Rosario at second base before Sandoval struck out Reyes. He would get Josh Naylor to fly out to left to end the inning. Leaving both runners stranded on base.
Maddon would stretch Sandoval out in the game by sending him out for the fifth and sixth innings. Sandoval would make good use of his arsenal striking out four Indians in three innings.
In three Cactus League outing this spring, Sandoval has yet to allow an earned run and has struck out 9 batters in 6 innings of work. Thrusting himself into the conversation for a spot on the Angels Opening Day roster.
Felix Pena would be the third and final Angels’ pitcher to appear in the game. Striking out Josh Naylor before surrendering a solo home run to his younger brother Bo Naylor.
Max Stassi hit a ringing double off the right field wall in the top of the third inning. That led to a sac fly by Jon Jay on the next at bat. The catcher has been limited to designated hitter this spring but being counted on to catch this season. He’s expected to share starting catching duties with Kurt Suzuki when the season opens next month.
Jared Walsh will be sharing time at first base with future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols this season. The lefty would drive in a run with a hard-hit ball to left field in the first inning. He had a nice line drive single and with some aggressive baserunner scored.
Jon Jay hit a solo home run to lead off the top of the sixth inning. The ball cleared the right field fence by at least fifteen to twenty feet. A very encouraging sign for the outfielder battling Juan Lagares and Taylor Ward for a spot as the fourth outfielder.
Helping put the “W” in “Wednesday.” @jonjayU | #LAASpring pic.twitter.com/rXkSDZw4El
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) March 10, 2021
Matt Thaiss would start at third base for the Angels. Going 1-for-3 with a double to left-center off Tristan McKenzie in the top of the sixth.
Both Barreto and Rengifo would add singles to their stolen bases for the day. Hitting .455 and .400 respectively this spring and pushing for a locker in Anaheim in April.
24-year-old Luis Rengifo has played in over 500 games as a professional baseball player. Only 26 of those games, all in the minors, were played in the outfield. The Angels started the infielder in left field Wednesday.
Developing the ability to play the outfield would certainly provide more versatility to Rengifo’s resume and the Angels bench. Giving Rengifo more value as an option for one of the limited role player spots on the roster.
Kurt Suzuki continued to impress with his ability to gun down runners this spring. Throwing out Eddie Rosario at second base in the fourth inning. Known more for his hitting than defense during his career, the veteran catcher has had much success with his arm in Arizona.
On Thursday: The Angels will be hosting the San Francisco Giants Thursday afternoon in Tempe. The Halos will send Griffin Canning to the mound to oppose Jose Cueto and the Giants. The 12:10 PM (PT) game will be broadcast for television on Fox Sports West and radio on KLAA.