Rightfully, the story surrounding the Los Angeles Angels in recent weeks has been Shohei Ohtani. But sitting quietly behind the two-way superstar is an All-Star first baseman in Jared Walsh who received some praise from Joe Maddon on Wednesday.
The Angels were deflated on Monday night, losing to the Boston Red Sox despite having several chances to take control of the game. However, they did not quit on the series, and they turned around to win the next two. On Tuesday, it was largely thanks to the pitching of Ohtani and the bats of David Fletcher and Max Stassi. On Wednesday, it was Walsh who carried the load.
Walsh hit two insurance home runs that kept the Red Sox at arms distance. His first made it a 4-2 ballgame, and the second made it 5-3. By winning 5-4, it’s safe to say that the Halos could not have won without Walsh’s contributions.
Maddon recognized this and spoke about what makes Walsh so effective, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“He’s different,” Maddon said. “Just shake his hand and you’re going to walk away hurting. He has really, really strong hands. And he’s learning to cope with lefties better.”
Walsh hit home runs No. 21 and 22 on Wednesday, giving him the third-most home runs by an Angels first baseman before the All-Star break. Only Albert Pujols (26) and Mo Vaughn (23) have hit more.
“Pretty special,” Maddon said. “And they did it against left-handed pitching today, which is really, really important. Walshy’s done really well. He’s been hitting good left-handed pitching and not just pedestrian lefties. It really changes a lot of things going forward regarding what we can do with our lineup.
Even when Walsh was crushing baseballs earlier this season, he had his fair share of struggled against left-handed pitching. Now, that appears to be turning around, making the Angels lineup that much more lethal when at full strength.
Anthony Rendon on IL until after All-Star break
Getting fully healthy is something that the Angels have struggled with all season, and much of it has to do with Anthony Rendon. The Angels All-Star third baseman has been unable to stay in the lineup for long periods of time without some small nagging injury forcing him to the IL.
This time, it’s a hamstring strain that will keep him out through the All-Star Break. Hopefully, he can return when the Angels are back in action on July 16.