by Stu Matthews, angelsnation.com managing editor
The “No-MLB Anxiety” eased up quite a bit on Sunday. So did the total absence of fans in the stands. The Covid pandemic is still around, but 28 teams played in 14 MLB spring training games — and this start looks much more promising than the nearly wiped-out 2020.
And the Angels won a baseball game. C’mon, celebrate.
Angels’ newcomer Jose Quintana was credited with the win for an inning’s work, and the Halos got the W in their Cactus League opener 5-2 over the San Francisco Giants in a seven-inning game at Scottsdale Stadium.
Roughly 700 fans attended the game — some in masks, some not (which prompted some social media outrage). But there were real fans in the stands, real players on the field, and the spring grounds are open, all of which warmed the cockles of veteran Angels beat writer Jeff Fletcher:
A sight I haven’t seen in a while. pic.twitter.com/jaJKTHEIFm
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) February 28, 2021
Angels lead-off man David Fletcher drew a four-pitch walk to start Sunday’s game, and everything seemed right: The clock had turned to “Go Time.”
Sunday’s game itself? It’s spring training baseball — so, not so much to see. But it was Angels baseball and this is what we do.
Brief Breakdown from Angels Nation:
Pitching: Angels manager Joe Maddon used seven pitchers, who combined to throw six hitless innings at the Giants. Only Mexican righty Gerardo Reyes ran into trouble in the third inning, when he gave up a pair of runs and left the game complaining of elbow discomfort.
New Angel southpaw Jose Quintana started, and he hit the leadoff man and walked Buster Posey to start things off before settling down to retiring the side. Patrick Sandoval followed with a scoreless second.
Angels righty Jake Faria pitched the longest spell, tossing 1.2 innings of spotless relief for Reyes.
Maddon deployed Kyle Keller, Dillon Peters and Thomas Pannone to finish it off, although each walked a batter.
Batters: The Angels showed some strike-zone discipline. They drew eight walks in the game, two of them forcing in runs, and the Halos had traffic on base all game. Fletcher, Jared Walsh and Luis Rengifo each reached base twice.
The only extra-base knock for the Angels was Rengifo’s RBI double in the second. Second base hopeful Kean Wong had a base hit, one of five hits for the Angels, and scored a run.
Talking points: Jo Adell batted cleanup and drew a walk. But right-fielder Adell, who had taken some questionable routes outfield as a rookie in 2020, fell down in the third inning chasing after a third-inning drive hit by Giants catcher Buster Posey.
Maddon said he thought Adell simply had slipped on some moist grass by the warning track.
On Monday: The Angels will open the doors to Tempe Diablo Stadium for their Cactus League home opener, with newcomer Alex Cobb taking the mound for the Angels against the Chicago White Sox.