Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon said that, going into the second half of the season, the team would need more from its pitchers. Patrick Sandoval, who was a mid-May addition to the team’s starting rotation, saw it as an opportunity to prove his place in Major League Baseball.
As he took the mound against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, he was coming off of back-to-back starts in which he finished seven innings of work. He had also thrown at least 100 pitches in each of his previous three outings. And against the Twins, everything appeared to be working. His changeup was elite, his slider worked to perfection, and through 8.1 innings of work, he had allowed zero hits.
He ultimately did not end up with a no-hitter, as a bloop double from Brent Rooker with one out in the ninth ended that bid. However, Sandoval absolutely felt great with every pitch he threw during his career-best outing, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I felt really good out there and just crisp and in sync with my delivery, and I think that was the key as the game went on,” Sandoval said. “I didn’t try too hard or try to do too much. As for knowing what was going on, I looked up at the scoreboard after each inning. I knew what was happening. And as the game went on, everyone in the dugout just got further and further away.”
Beyond the actual work on the mound, Sandoval described the atmosphere of the moment as surreal, especially as the opposing fans caught wind of what was happening.
“I’ve never really envisioned it, it’s not something I’ve dreamt of,” Sandoval said. “It was pretty surreal. You can hear the crowd getting louder and louder every inning later in the game. I thought I handled it pretty well. Honestly, I thought I’d freak it out.”
Sandoval finished with 8.2 innings pitched, one hit, one earned run, one walk, two hit-by-pitches, and a career-high 13 strikeouts. Raisel Iglesias came in for the save after Sandoval allowed the one hit and a deep fly out to right field.
While he did not complete the no-hitter, the 24-year old proved that he undoubtedly belongs as a Major League starter. In 11 starts for the Angels this season, he has an ERA of 3.22, a WHIP of 1.057, and a K-to-BB ratio of 3.48.
Alex Cobb hoping to not be traded
Another Angels starter that has exceeded expectations this season is Alex Cobb. And while Sandoval is certainly unavailable in trade talks, Cobb may not be given his expiring contract. However, he recently made it known that he does not want to be traded, and wants to fight for a playoff spot with the Angels.