The Los Angeles Angels have not shied away from playing close games in 2021. Through seven games, five have been decided by two runs or less, while all seven were within two heading to the final innings. Luckily, the Angels have been able to escape with wins thanks to clutch hits from Mike Trout, David Fletcher, Jared Walsh, and others.
Games that go down to the wire are extremely fun for fans, given their team wins. The Angels have mastered that art in 2021, with their most recent win coming in extra innings. In the 11th inning with the game tied at five, Fletcher hit a blooper to shallow center field that scored two runs to give the Angels a 7-5 win.
“He hit it hard enough, yet soft enough,” manager Joe Maddon said of Fletcher’s winning hit, which left the bat at only 70.3 mph but found a landing spot between two Blue Jays. “That’s what he’s capable of doing.”
Fletcher was just happy to see close games starting to go the Angels way, something he didn’t feel was happening the last few years.
“You always want the close games to go your way,” Fletcher said. “It feels like the last few years, they haven’t. But right now, it’s going great.”
The statistics somewhat back up Fletcher’s claim. In 2019, 62 of the Angels’ 162 games were separated by two runs or less. The Halos went 29-33 in those games in a year they finished 72-90. In 2020, when the Angels went 26-34 in the 60-game sprint, they went 13-12 in the 25 games that came down to two runs or less.
How a team performs in clutch situations can define who they are as a season progresses. The 2021 Angels are 4-1 in two-run or one-run games this season, and winning games in that way can help build good habits for later in the year.
Even more of note, all of their games have come against great teams. The Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, and Toronto Blue Jays were all projected to finish over .500 and within arms reach of a playoff spot when the year began, according to PECOTA standings.
Mike Trout playing dominant baseball
After a 2020 season in which Angels superstar Mike Trout lacked confidence in his swing, he is back to playing his best baseball at the start of 2021. He’s slashing a ridiculous .417/.563/.875 while hitting three home runs to go along with six RBI’s, seven runs, and eight walks.