The Los Angeles Angels were supposed to go into Thursday’s game against the Oakland Athletics with Shohei Ohtani on the mound. Instead, a traffic incident made Ohtani’s bus late to the stadium, and Joe Maddon turned to Patrick Sandoval in an extremely last-minute decision.
Sandoval actually responded with his best outing of the season, throwing five scoreless innings, allowing five hits and striking out four. He was pulled before the bottom of the sixth in a 0-0 game in favor of Aaron Slegers.
The game quickly got away from the Angels in what has become a recurring theme. Slegers and Alex Claudio proceeded to give up five runs in one inning. It would be the only frame in which any runs would score, as the Angels fell 5-0 to snap a small winning streak.
Maddon gave immense praise to Sandoval for pitching so well on such short notice, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“He was really good,” Maddon said. “I thought he was outstanding. He went out there on short notice. After that first inning, he settled in and really got on a roll. He was able to escape some situations. He used all his pitches really well tonight. It wasn’t just about fastball and changeup. He threw some curveballs and sliders too. He was really good. That’s a great outing to build off now.”
Despite that, Maddon felt confident in the decision to bring in Slegers after 84 pitches thrown by Sandoval. He chalked up most of Slegers’ allowed runs as unfortunate.
“I thought (Sandoval) had done his job right there,” Maddon said. “We like Slegers a lot right there. If you play back the tape, he gave up a ball down the left field line, a walk, a couple ground balls. He could have been out of the inning. And then a pop-up. He threw the ball pretty well. It was kind of unfortunate.”
While it’s true that Slegers did catch some unlucky breaks in terms of the contact he was allowing, it doesn’t change the fact that the bullpen and defensive errors once again gave a winnable game away. If the Angels hope to remain competitive in the playoff race, they can’t allow this to keep happening.
Ohtani will now take the mound on Friday with the plan of getting the Angels back on a winning track. Tying this series up will do wonders for them as they try desperately to get back to .500.
Perry Minasian expecting better play
Angels general manager Perry Minasian emphasized the importance of the team’s performance over the next month. He firmly believes the Angels can and will improve, but it will on him to make some difficult decisions if they don’t.