The Los Angeles Angels have been stuck in an odd cycle when the offense hits, the pitching isn’t there to hold their weight, and vice versa. But the two constant pieces to the team have been Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, who both have the ability to change a game on their own.
Entering play on June 1, the Angels are looking up at the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, who hold the top spot in the American League West. Manager Phil Nevin has been open about his desire for guys like Taylor Ward to get going to help supplement his top two, and their 12-5 win over the Chicago White Sox might’ve been a good kick start.
Trout opened the top of the first with a 461-foot blast, giving the Angels an early 2-0 lead. That was quickly followed up with blasts from Ohtani in the third and fourth innings, his second going 459 feet.
Whether it was catching the White Sox at a great time, or things lining up against Lance Lynn to get their bats right, Ohtani and Trout got it going on Wednesday, which is important for the Angels, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“When those two guys are rolling like that, and you have a game where they both get one out, and Shohei two of them, the dugout atmosphere is just different,” Manager Phil Nevin said. “That’s the way it is. Those are your guys you lean on. We’re gonna need them a lot. Games like today are why they are who they are. They can certainly put teams on their back and carry us. They did that today.”
The Angels played near .500 baseball in the month of May, and prior to Wednesday, both Trout and Ohtani had been caught in their own version of a slump. The latter hasn’t fared too well in his most recent two weeks, but it seems he figured out what was holding him back:
“The most important thing for me is my setup,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “How I’m seeing the ball is in the setup. As long as that’s fine, everything is good.”
Trout has raised his season on-base plus slugging to .891, totaling 13 homers and 31 RBI. There is certainly room for improvement from him in the power department, but most of his issues have come from getting beat by high-velocity stuff:
“Just trying to have good at-bats, put good swings on balls,” Trout said. “Obviously early in the month was kind of inconsistent. Missing my pitch. It’s starting to feel better.”
The Angels will continue to need their two stars working in lockstep, or at the very least need one to carry the load. The difference is that Ohtani can impact a game from both ends, so him finding a rhythm is incredibly important.
Angels need Taylor Ward to regain form
The Angels built their team around a bulk of their offensive firepower being from the right side with Trout, Anthony Rendon, Hunter Renfroe and Ward all being big pieces to the puzzle.
But with some cold spells and bouts with nagging ailments, Nevin has needed to find a bit of patience.
Now in his 6th season in Major League Baseball, Ward broke out last season, posting an .833 on-base plus slugging in 135 games, but this year has been a mixed bag.
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