by BJ Martin, Angels Nation Staff
The Arizona Diamondbacks hitters were barreling up well on the ball before 2,100 fans at Salt River Fields Thursday afternoon. Scoring at least a run each of the first six innings off Angels pitching until Aaron Slegers and Jake Reed pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth innings, respectively.
Angels starter Griffin Canning still managed to strike out five D-Backs hitters in his two innings of work. Gaining better control of his breaking pitches as his outing progressed.
Mostly, it was all Arizona offense as their starting line-up faced off against the Halos travelling line-up of mostly back-up players.
The exception being a pair of Angels outfielders who stood out at the plate and in the field as the D-Backs soundly defeated the Angels 9-2 in Scottsdale.
Standing out in an Angels line-up made up of players battling for jobs was prospect Brandon Marsh. After striking out in his first at-bat against Bumgarner, the lefty showed off his sweet stroke in his second plate appearance. Hitting a triple to the right-center field gap in the top of the fifth.
That bat crack tho 😍
Non-roster invite Juan Lagares is battling for a roster spot as the team’s fourth outfielder. H continued to look good a plate, on bases, and in the field. Off to a good start in his battle with Jon Jay, Scott Schebler, and Taylor Ward for that role as the Angels extra outfielder.
The ‘Brief Breakdown’:
Griffin Canning battled his way through two innings. Surrendering a pair of runs, including a home run to Trayce Thompson in the second. In the end, Canning would record five of his six outs via strikeouts. Throwing 25 of his 37 pitches for strikes.
Canning’s fastball was hitting mid-90’s and slider and curve looked good. He saw a few close ball calls by home plate umpire Jose Navas that didn’t help his numbers. A healthy Canning this season is essential for the Angels starting rotation success.
Felix Pena would get tagged by a pair of solo home runs courtesy of Jose Rojas and Eduardo Escobar in the bottom of the third inning. Pena was throwing his mid-90’s fastball and should be good to go his next time out.
Ty Buttrey and Luke Bard would follow and the Arizona bats would continue to hit and score runs off the young right-handers. Both are looking to show Joe Maddon and the Angels they can contribute to a playoff caliber bullpen this season.
Talented southpaw Hector Yan was reaching low-90’s with his fastball and struggled to record two outs in the sixth inning. The 21-year-old Yan should start the season in Single-A for the Angels in May.
Slegers would shut down the Arizona offense pitching an inning and a third scoreless baseball. The 6-foot-10 right-hander was acquired last month from Tampa Bay and has looked good in his first two spring appearances.
Side-arm right-hander Jake Reed allowed a single and struck out a D-Back in his lone inning of work Thursday. A dark horse in the running for a bullpen spot, Reed has performed well in his first two Cactus League outings.
Total, five Diamondbacks pitchers would limit the B-squad of Angels batters to four hits on the afternoon.
Lagares would account for half of the offensive production.
Starting in center field, he went 2-for-3 and stole a pair of bases off catcher D-Backs Stephen Vogt during the contest. The 31-year-old Gold Glove outfielder is off to a hot start in his bid to earn a spot on the roster hitting .571 (4-for-7) with 3 stolen bases in his first week of play.
Franklin Barreto, also battling for a job as a utility infielder, stroke a double to left field in the top of the sixth inning. The infielder is out of options and has started his spring 2-for-4 in less than a week of Cactus League games.
Joe Maddon seems to take an old school approach the 20-pitch mercy inning rule. For the second consecutive game, Maddon opted to use the opportunity for a pitching change and situational pitching for another reliever. He removed Hector Yan with runners in scoring position and Aaron Slegers answered the call getting out of the jam.
Interim pitching coach Matt Wise returned to camp following a two-week departure due to fight with COVID-19 beginning in mid-February.
On Friday: Shohei Ohtani will make his first start on the hill for the Angels against the Oakland Athletics at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa. The A’s have yet to name their starter for the 12:05 PM (PT) Friday match-up. The game will be broadcast for television on Fox Sports West and MLB Network and radio on KLAA.