Los Angeles Angels infielder Phil Gosselin got a surprise start in the No. 2 spot in Joe Maddon’s lineup for Game 1 of their Thursday doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins. Shohei Ohtani got the first game off, allowing Gosselin to make the start there. And while many assumed it would lead to a lack of offensive production at the top of the lineup, Gosselin assured that wouldn’t happen.
He hit a solo home run in his first at-bat of the game to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. Then, in his second plate appearance, he hit a three-RBI double off the wall on a full count. He had four RBI’s on the day and is now slashing .304/.347/.478 in 49 plate appearances this season.
Maddon spoke about Gosselin’s performance in a 7-1 Angels win, saying that he was unsurprised by what he saw, according to Daniel Guerrero of MLB.com:
“It’s not surprising at all,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “And especially against a left-hander. He’s got a live bat, [the] ball comes off hot. Even that second one was a full-count double. I mean, that was just a flick that was [at the] bottom of the zone [and he] flicked it. Got enough of it. I think the wind was our friend today on fly balls to left, but he can hit, this is not a surprise.”
“This is who he is,” Maddon said. “It’s not like there’s an ascension of sorts. I think [the difference is] more playing more than anything, probably. … So no surprise, he’s going to do this. I don’t know how long he’s going to play baseball, but he’s going to do this wherever he’s at.”
Gosselin becoming a productive bat in the Angels lineup would be a huge benefit for a team that’s likely going to need him in Mike Trout’s absence. Now that Jose Rojas will spend the next 6-8 weeks playing more time in the outfield, it opens up a potential infielder spot for Gosselin.
This is especially true if David Fletcher continues to struggle and grapple with nagging injuries. While this level of production was likely not expected of Gosselin, the Angels are certainly happy to see it.
Ohtani sees decreased velocity in recent start
While he and Maddon each confirmed it was not due to injury, it was clear Ohtani was sluggish in his most recent start on the mound. His fastball velocity was down by almost 5 miles per hour on average, a drastic dropoff for a player who can easily hit 99-100.