Angels 5, Giants 4 (7 innings) – Cactus League 3/11/21
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by BJ Martin, Angels Nation Staff 

Mike Trout had gone almost two weeks into Cactus League play without hitting a home run. He would arrive in Tempe for his sixth Spring Training game of the season ready to go. 

The perennial MVP candidate did not waste any time Thursday ending that homerless streak. Following a lead-off single by David Fletcher, Trout crushed a ball high off the left field berm off Johnny Cueto. 

The 29-year-old center fielder enters this year coming off a six-year playoff drought. The veteran seems poised to lead the 2021 Angels back into the playoffs. He may just have the cast of co-stars to make that happen this year. 

Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and Justin Upton are all being counted on to provide added pop to an Angels line-up. When healthy, there line-up is one of the strongest in baseball. 

The guy many aren’t expecting much from delivered against the Giants.

Albert Pujols showed he still has some life in his bat hitting a pair of doubles in his first two at-bats of the game. The Machine would finish the day with a single in the fifth inning going 3-for-3 for the afternoon. Improving his .538 batting average across 13 at-bats in 6 Spring Training games this year. 

The Angels would come out victorious, winning 5-4 in their 7-inning duel with the Giants at Tempe Diablo Stadium. 

The ‘Brief Breakdown’: 

Pitching:  

Griffin Canning cruised through the first inning striking out lead-off hitter Alex Dickerson before retiring the side in order. Things were looking good for the UCLA right-hander as he quickly retired Jason Darin Ruf on strikes to open the second inning.

Unfortunately, from that point on, Canning seemed to lose his release point. The control he had demonstrated effectively facing the fist four hitters was gone. He would walk the next two batters before striking out Jaylin Davis for the second out in the inning. 

Interim pitching coach Matt Wise was sure to visit the mound, checking on the Angels young right-hander. Obviously making sure his pitcher with a history of elbow issues was healthy.

Canning would walk his fourth batter of the inning to load the bases before surrendering a bases clearing double to Will Wilson. The Angels 2019 first round pick who was traded with Zack Cozart’s contract in December 2019, getting a little revenge on his former club. 

Ben Rowen would enter the game with two outs in the second and strike out Dickerson to get the Angels out of the inning.  

Canning would go back on the field to start the third inning before walking a batter and surrendering a base hit and being pulled a final time. Despite his struggles, his return for the third inning is a good sign regarding the health of his elbow.

Denny Brady would enter the game inheriting two of Canning’s base runners. He’d do a brilliant job getting the Angels out of the inning without giving up any runs. The 24-year-old right hander has performed well in his three Cactus League outings this spring. Striking out four batters in 3-plus innings out of the Halos bullpen this preseason. 

Anointed 2021 closer Raisel Iglesias worked his way through a rocky fourth inning. Surrendering a walk and base hit before wiggling his way through the half-inning without surrendering a run. 

Last year’s bullpen revelation, Mike Mayers, entered in the fifth and surrendered two hits in a scoreless frame. Like Iglesias the inning before, he was tested and successfully escaped the two-baserunner jam. 

Coming into this game with an impressive spring, non-roster invitee Jake Faria also struggled through his inning. Opening his outing by plucking Will Wilson with a pitch before walking two, allowing two stolen bases and a base hit.

All that said, the Anaheim native still only allowed one run in his inning, holding on to the Angels narrow lead.

Kyle Keller would pitch the seventh and final inning of the ballgame. He walked Marcus Dubon to open the frame before retiring the next three batters in order. Getting credit for the save in the Angels 5-4 victory.

Batters:  

Trout obviously provided the fireworks early with his home run but he wasn’t alone hitting Giants starter Johnny Cueto. 

Ohtani followed Trout’s homer with a solid line drive to left field. Three batters later, Albert Pujols would double down the left line before Ohtani was gunned down at home.

Ohtani would demonstrate his speed in the third inning as he beat out a single hit to shortstop. The left-hander would hit a line drive to the left-center gap only to be robbed of an extra base hit by Giants center fielder Steven Duggar. 

Pujols would hit another double on a two-strike pitch from Zack Littell. The two-bagger hit to the opposite field of the right-center gap would drive in Justin Upton with the tying run. Upton walking twice on the day batting in front of the future Hall of Fame first baseman. 

The next batter, Dexter Fowler would club a two-run home run to right field giving the Angels a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. The starting right fielder’s homer was the first of the spring for the 6-foot-5 thirteen-year MLB veteran. 

Pesky lead-off hitter David Fletcher continued doing his thing with a pair of singles before departing the game in the fifth inning. Fletcher is locked in as the Angels starting second baseman and number one hitter heading into the regular season. 

Talking points:  

The Angels optioned left-handed pitcher Hector Yan to minor leagues Wednesday. This marks the first member of the 40-man roster to be re-assigned this spring. The team will need to trim their roster to 26 players before their April 1st opener against the White Sox. 

The team announced Thursday that pitchers Gerardo Reyes and Brendan McCurry would require season-ending Tommy John surgery. Reyes was considered a potential option for the Angels bullpen while McCurry was non-roster invite to camp.  

The club added pitchers Austin Warren and Zac Kristofak as non-roster players to Angels camp. The additions will provide depth as a result of the aforementioned injuries. 

Manager Joe Maddon said that he has received his first COVID-19 vaccine shot. The second will be happening soon according to the Angels skipper. 

On Friday: The Angels will be hosting the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks Friday afternoon in Tempe. Jose Quintana will toe the rubber for the Halos against the D-Backs Zac Gallen. The 12:10 PM (PT) game will be broadcast for television on Fox Sports West and radio on KLAA. 

 

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