The Los Angeles Angels have generally not struggled to generate offense — or positive pitching — against the Texas Rangers this season. However, one could never tell from watching Tuesday night’s game, where Packy Naughton completed just two innings and the Angels had just two baserunners over a seven-inning span.
Things got off to a good start in Texas as the Halos embarked on their final road trip of the season. Naughton was shaky in the first inning but got out of it scoreless. Then, Max Stassi drilled a two-run home run. That lead was short-lived, though, as Naughton proceeded to give up four runs on three hits and two walks in the bottom half of the frame.
Joe Maddon took the young Angels pitcher out in between the second and third inning, saying that it just wasn’t his night and that nothing was really working for him, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“He just didn’t have it,” Maddon said. “The command was not there. Stuff, in general, was just not the same. Not as sharp. He battled like he normally does. He just did not have the same finish on his pitches, nor did he know where they were going, so it was just a tough night for him.”
Maddon wasn’t quite as upset about the offensive production — or lack thereof — as unlucky hits into shifts defined the team’s struggles.
“I thought we hit some balls really well,” Maddon said. “We were a little unlucky. It seems like teams in our division defend well in terms of positioning. I don’t even know how to figure that out. But that was part of the loss tonight. We hit some really well-struck balls right at their defense.”
Maddon has a point here. While losing to the Rangers and scoring two runs on four hits is never ideal, it’s important to note that five of the team’s six hardest-hit balls resulted in outs. Their hardest hit ball — a Jose Rojas line drive — turned into a double play from the glove of Adolis Garcia.
These are the types of things that tend to regress towards the median over the course of a series. Hopefully, in their last two games in Arlington, they’ll see some of that positive regression.
The Angels may need it, as they’ll be putting their faith in the arm of yet another young pitcher on Wednesday in Janson Junk.
Maddon explains plan to land top free agent pitchers
It’s very easy for a manager to say that his team needs to add frontline starters. It’s much more bold to detail — publicly — the exact strategy he’s going to use to lure them to Anaheim.
That’s exactly what Maddon did when discussing the team’s needs in 2022. He explained that certain pitchers will be enamored by the idea of being the player that turned the Angels around and gave them their World Series contention.