The Los Angeles Angels broke out of their five game losing streak in dominating fashion, defeating their cross-town rivals — the L.A. Dodgers — 9-2 in a game where seemingly everything went right. Leadoff hitter David Fletcher, who was batting just .264 prior to Friday night, broke out in a big way.
He went 3-for-5 with three RBI’s and a double, increasing his batting average to .276 in one night. He also received plenty of help from the stars behind him. Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Justin Upton went a combined 5-for-12 with four RBI’s, most of which came in a two-out rally in the sixth inning.
Angels manager Joe Maddon spoke about the potential of the Angels lineup when Fletcher is at his best, according to Daniel Guerrero of MLB.com:
“It’s very dangerous,” Maddon said of the lineup. “He’s the table setter. He’s not maybe a home run hitter, but he hits doubles and he lets the rest of the lineup see what the pitcher has the first time through.”
It wasn’t just the top of the order that contributed to the “danger” of the Angels lineup. Even recently called up Taylor Ward got in on the blowout. He homered to give the Angels a 2-1 lead in the second inning, one they wouldn’t give up for the remainder of the game.
“Felt great,” Ward said. “Felt like a huge weight had been lifted. At that moment, I could just go play. And you know, I just want to keep feeling that over and over.”
Fletcher did not have the best start to this season at the plate. However, he is still one of the best contact hitters in baseball, and is the perfect compliment to the pure power of Ohtani and Trout behind him. At their best, the Angels could arguably have the best lineup in the major leagues.
Now that the Angels have broken out of their slump — and against the reigning World Series champions — it’s not just about keeping the momentum going as they face the Dodgers two more times this weekend.
Fletcher improving timing after early season slump
Fletcher attributed his new found success in the 2021 season to improved timing. He said that to begin the season, he was a bit slow at the plate, often swinging too late at pitches that he generally can turn into hits. Once he fixed his timing and adjusted to how pitchers are throwing at him this season, he was able to get back on track.