Los Angeles Angels catcher Max Stassi came into Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers in a 4-for-72 slump. He had also recently described his season as “horrible.” So he was particularly frustrated when he ended an excellent Angels rally by grounding into a triple play.
The Angels and Rangers were tied at two entering the sixth inning, with reliever Dennis Santana on the mound. Shohei Ohtani took to the plate and quickly hit an 0-1 single. Taylor Ward followed that up with an RBI double, making it 3-2 Angels.
Matt Duffy then singled, pushing Ward to third base and chasing Santana from the game. Mike Ford then made it four consecutive hits for the Angels, hitting a single that scored Ward and put Duffy at third. Jo Adell kept the rally going with another single to make it 5-2 and put runners at first and second base.
There, Stassi took a 2-1 sinker and grounded out directly to the third baseman Josh Jung, who initiated a triple play, the first against L.A. since Aug. 16, 2018. Duffy, the veteran journeyman, defended Stassi’s ongoing slump and shared in his frustrations, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“It can be a pretty frustrating cycle to be in,” Duffy said. “I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. I’ll be there again if I play long enough. That’s just baseball. It’s extremely humbling and you’ve just got to ride it out. Try to compete as best you can when you get in the game. Try to get better every day. That’s the beauty and I guess the pain of baseball. If you’re not feeling good, you got another one coming right at you. But it’s also another opportunity.”
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin also spoke about Stassi’s struggles and how the triple play is just another in a series of difficult outcomes for him at the plate this season.
“It’s just kind of the way things are going,” Manager Phil Nevin said. “He hit the ball good. You got to hit it hard to hit into a triple play, especially when you go the 5-4-3 route. Just an unfortunate play. He got a good pitch. He turned on and hit it well, but right at the third baseman standing on the bag. Feel for him a little bit, but that’s the way it’s going.”
The Angels still managed to win despite the triple play, holding on to the 5-2 lead they secured during the sixth inning. The Angels bullpen — Andrew Wantz, Aaron Loup, and Jimmy Herget — were nearly flawless, while Patrick Sandoval had himself a solid start.
It was the Angels’ fourth win in their last five games, moving them to 65-83 on the season.
Jose Suarez struggling third time through order
Jose Suarez has notably struggled to go deep into games this season, giving up an OPS of over 1.000 when facing batters a third time. It came up again in Monday’s series finale against the Seattle Mariners, when he allowed a grand slam in the fifth inning.