After beginning their 10-game road trip with a loss to the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels have bounced back by sweeping the Detroit Tigers in historic fashion.
Thursday’s comeback win was slated to go much differently, as the Angels originally were planning to send Patrick Sandoval to the mound for his 18th overall appearance and 15th start of the season.
The left-hander, however, was scratched due to a lower back injury that could wind up sidelining him for the remainder of the 2021 season. He officially was placed on the 10-day injured list with what the team classified as a lumbar spine stress reaction.
Angels manager Joe Maddon revealed Sandoval started feeling some discomfort after his last start against the Houston Astros on Aug. 13 and that more testing will be needed to determine the extent of the injury, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It’s a lower back issue that started bothering him after his last start,” Maddon said. “And because of that, some testing was done and we have to shut him down for now. That’s what I know. It really came out of nowhere for us. It’s an unusual injury, so we’re still trying to collect information.”
This latest development marks the latest blow to an Angels team that has been decimated by injuries for the better part of the 2021 season. Aside from Shohei Ohtani’s unworldly contributions on both sides of the ball, Sandoval arguably had been the club’s most impressive starter.
The 24-year-old did not enter the Angels rotation until the middle of May but certainly made the most of his opportunities. Prior to landing on the IL, he posted a 3-6 record with a 3.62 ERA, 4.03 FIP and 1.21 WHIP in 87 innings pitched.
With Sandoval unable to make his scheduled start on Thursday, the Angels are sending José Quintana to the mound in his place. The veteran has exclusively pitched out of the bullpen since the start of June, and for the season, owns a 0-3 record, 6.12 ERA, 4.25 FIP and 1.70 WHIP in 50 innings.
Ohtani dazzles with brilliant two-way performance
Regardless of Thursday’s result, the Angels have already won their series against the Tigers thanks to their 3-1 win in the middle matchup.
Shohei Ohtani, the frontrunner for American League MVP honors, had his fingerprints all over the victory, hitting his MLB-leading 40th home run of the season in the top of the eighth and tossing eight innings of one-run ball to earn his eighth win on the mound.