In the past two seasons, the Los Angeles Angels have seen Taylor Ward jump out of the gate to a hot start, giving fans a peek into another player who may star in their offense. But on both occasions, his bat has cooled off, leaving them with another sizable hole in the batting order.
The Angels haven’t been as consistent as an entire unit, but in their two-game split with the Chicago White Sox and three games against the Houston Astros, Ward has seen his bat trending up.
Ward logged four hits in eight at-bats against the White Sox, including a double and a homer in the opener. Ward would add another two-RBI in the following contest. Against the Astros, he went 5-for-13, giving him a .345/.387/.586 line over his past seven games.
His offense drew praise from Angels manager Phil Nevin, who believes Ward is close to regaining his form, per Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“I love the way he swung the bat in Chicago,” the Angels manager said on Thursday. “I think he made some great strides and is getting close to where he should be.”
Ward had been stuck in a difficult stretch of play, which forced Nevin to push him further down in the batting order. Nevin hoped that by moving him, it would take some pressure off.
Although Ward has not found himself back into his leadoff role yet, that may happen if he continues his hot hitting:
“Those things change quickly,” Nevin said. “We’re two months into the season so we got a good idea what guys are gonna do. The emphasis is on winning games, as it always is. But you kind of got a better feel for what your personnel is and things like that. Like I said, our best team is when Wardo is going good and he’s at the top of our lineup. I think we’re hoping that he’s there.”
Because a few guys in the Angels lineup are slumping while others are performing, the difficult task of shuffling names comes into play. Finding the perfect mixture of who needs a day off, but also having the understanding that riding the hot bat is necessary, which was the case with Mickey Moniak:
“It’s a challenge because Mickey is swinging it great too,” Nevin said. “At the start of the season, we didn’t know if there would be that many at-bats for him, but he’s earned the right to have them and keep him fresh. We’ll try to do the best we can.”
Ward has four hits against the Houston Astros in their two games to open that series. Heading into the month of June, Nevin should try finding the best spots in where to deploy his versatile right-handed bat.
Mike Trout & Shohei Ohtani join Taylor Ward with production against White Sox
In their 12-5 win over the White Sox on Wednesday, Trout opened the top of the first with a 461-foot blast, giving the Angels an early 2-0 lead. That was quickly followed up with blasts from Ohtani in the third and fourth innings, his second going 459 feet.
Whether it was catching the White Sox at a great time, or things lining up against Lance Lynn to get their bats right, Ohtani and Trout got it going.
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