The Angels have had their fair share of self-inflicted troubles and unpredictable injuries this season. So far, it has not stopped them from trying to prove they can be a postseason team as they approach the midway point of the season.
Through the first month, for example, they lost rookie catcher Logan O’Hoppe to a torn labrum and lost a few games, such as their series in Boston, behind sloppy defense. Their starting pitchers through May struggled to string together quality starts. Their bullpen went through plenty of turnover, both because of injury and needing to find consistency. They had stretches of games, at one point one that lasted more than two weeks, crisscrossing the country without a day off.
Yet the Angels came into their final homestand of June — which stretches into July and concludes with a series against the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks — one game out of a playoff spot.
In evaluating his team’s first half, manager Phil Nevin was overall pleased with where the Angels sit, but he acknowledged there was still room for improvement.
“I think we’ve played better from Day 1 until now,” Nevin said before his team’s 2-1, walk-off victory, on a wild pitch, over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night, improving the Angels’ record to 43-37. “If you would have told me standings-wise where we’re at, I would have been very happy with … that position because of what our schedule’s been and where we’re gonna be over the next month.
“There’s always games you’re gonna look back at and say, ‘We should have got this one or that one,’” he continued. “There’s a lot of things we need to get better at if we want to get to where we want to be or where we think we’re gonna be. But overall, the consistency’s been there. More for me is the attitude and how we’ve gone about it. I love the way this room has shaped up. It’s a group you just want to win with.”
This month, the Angels lost additional key starters — shortstop Zach Neto (oblique strain), third baseman Anthony Rendon (left wrist contusion) and infielder Gio Urshela (pelvis fracture, out for the season). There is no timeline on a return for Neto, who has not started baseball activities, and there is no clear update on a return for Rendon, who before Monday’s game was taking groundballs at third base.
General manager Perry Minasian was aggressive in trying to replace the talent amid the new injuries.
In acquiring infielders Eduardo Escobar and Mike Moustakas while the team was in Denver facing Colorado, the Angels showed they have no intention of letting the season get away.
Minasian said on Monday that the recent moves showed a continued commitment to improve the roster.
“The coaching staff and Phil and the players have put themself in a position to where we’re in contention for a playoff spot,” Minasian said. “And I don’t take that lightly. They’ve worked really hard to be at this point, especially with all the challenges we’ve gone through over the early course of the season.
“I look at it as it’s my turn to help out and to continue adding talent to the roster like we do day in and day out from a baseball operation standpoint. I felt like we needed to make some moves and enhance the roster, and hopefully we did that.”
There are still plenty of games until the Aug.1 trade deadline and there is still much baseball to be played.
Detmers keeps building
Angels starter Reid Detmers continued to build on his series of strong outings. On Monday, he pitched seven innings for a second consecutive time, holding the White Sox to one run, two hits and two walks. He struck out 10 over 105 pitches.
That one run was a solo home run he gave up in the first inning to Luis Robert Jr.
Shohei Ohtani responded, hitting his major league-leading 26th home run in the fourth off White Sox starter Dylan Cease. Ohtani’s homer tied the score at 1 before Mike Trout scored on a wild pitch by Aaron Bummer in the ninth.
Escobar was put on the restricted list. He flew to Florida to take the test for his U.S. citizenship and is expected to be available again Wednesday. Jo Adell was called up to take his place.