Young Los Angeles Angels starter Griffin Canning has struggled with consistency during his first three seasons in the Major Leagues. Even this season, he’s put together solid nights only to come back the very next start and dig the Angels a hole they can’t get out of. However, all of this was thrown out the window on Wednesday.
In the first inning against the Kansas City Royals, Canning loaded the bases with two walks, then proceeded to strike two batters out and avoid any damage. From that point on, he was simply lights out. He finished with 6.2 innings pitched and 89 pitches thrown. In that time, he allowed just one run on five hits and two walks while striking out six.
Canning spoke about his ongoing first inning struggles and how he was able to escape it and move forward on Wednesday, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“That first inning is always a tough inning,” Canning said. “You go out there and try to get a feel for what you have. Just kind of settle into the surroundings. I felt like I actually pitched today, which was more fun. I was more into the flow of the game and understanding what they’ve done in the past, and what they’re trying to do.”
“The one inning where I gave up the run, that’s usually where I would start trying to miss bats more as opposed to staying on the attack,” Canning said. “If I give up a run or two, who cares, it’s about getting quick outs and going deeper into the game.”
Part of the reason for Canning’s top-notch night could be trusting all four of his pitches, rather than just relying on his fastball or changeup. He recorded 18 swings and misses, and Angels manager Joe Maddon took notice with one pitch in particular:
“He really incorporated the curveball today,” Maddon said. “I love the curveball. I think it’s a really good pitch and gives the hitter a little bit of a difference in velocity to be concerned with. He really got into a nice tempo right until the very end.”
Canning’s performance signaled an ongoing trend of excellent starting pitching. The Angels have a 3.32 ERA in their last 13 games, and it’s come from a variety of different arms. Canning, Shohei Ohtani, Alex Cobb, Andrew Heaney, and Patrick Sandoval have all turned in great performances in recent weeks.
Now, the Angels get to continue a stretch of games against below .500 teams against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hopefully, they don’t get complacent and continue to keep their foot on the gas pedal.
Maddon described different vibe in the clubhouse
It starts with the pitching, but the Angels have put together a bunch of complete performances in recent weeks and are now 11-5 in their last 16 games.
Maddon said the improved pitching and wins are really turning things around in the clubhouse, where the vibe is totally different from just a few weeks ago when it felt as though the sky was falling.