The Los Angeles Angels have hit their stride. With superstar Mike Trout on the mend from a Grade 2 calf strain, Joe Maddon has figured out a recipe to succeed on offense and with pitching. It seems as though nearly everyone is playing their best baseball of the season, and it’s led to a 17-8 record since they hit their worst win percentage of the season.
Now, they’re over .500 and sit within arms reach of a playoff spot if they continue this hot streak. When they were faced with a lighter stretch of schedule, Maddon said that the team had to approach it with playoff mentality, and they did exactly that with an 11-5 record in that time.
After a third consecutive win against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night, Maddon explained everything that was going right with the Angels and how it feels to witness it, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“Just beautiful stuff,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Somebody asked me earlier today what it means to play 1985 baseball and there’s your answer. That was wonderful.”
“We had timely hitting, the baserunning, the pitching; it was entertaining,” Maddon said. “We had guys in motion all the time. I thought our effort level couldn’t have been better. It starts with Upton and I guess ends with Fletch at the bottom, but we’ve got everything in between.”
“They’re feeding off each other,” Maddon said. “The baton has been passed. I can’t emphasize how much J-Up has set the tone. Ohtani’s been hot. Jared has really ascended. We’ve been missing Anthony [Rendon], but he’s back now. And then Fletch has had a great month. And of course, [Max] Stassi. And Juan Lagares has been swinging the bat better. [José] Iglesias, too. I feel like I’m describing the whole team because the whole group has been contributing and that’s what happens to allow you to score seven runs a game.”
Nearly everyone on the Angels, from stars like Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh to role players and pitchers like Patrick Sandoval and Taylor Ward, have stepped up in the absence of Trout. They’re beating teams they are supposed to beat, and they’ve been doing it with relative ease.
Now, they’ll have one more game against the Tigers before embarking on a more difficult stretch of games against playoff-caliber teams. They play nine straight — and seven on the road — against the San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays, and New York Yankees.
Justin Upton thriving in leadoff role
Angels left fielder Justin Upton had never batted in the leadoff spot until Maddon decided to experiment with it nearly a month ago. Since then, he’s been one of the Angels best hitters, and has done a remarkable job setting the tone for the entire team. His stats are up across the board, and he looks to be playing rejuvenated baseball.