Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Column: Angels are the funniest team in Southern California

On Wednesday afternoon, the Angels’ lineup card featured an unusual symbol, Anthony Rendon’s name.

“I list him as a switch hitter,” manager Joe Madden said with a laugh.

The not-so-inside joke was a reference to Rendon’s home run the night before. The Angels lead with 11 points, rookie Reid Detmers is about to pitch a no-hitter and positional Brett Phillips in the eighth inning for the Tampa Bay Rays, Rendon hits the ball from the left for the first time in his career and pitches the ball quickly into the right field .

“Obviously,” Determers said, “everything he did was untrue.”

Or, for these angels, more of the same.

Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and his company made spectacular sights commonplace, turning Big A into a dream metropolis.

The Angels aren’t the best team in the area — that’s the Dodgers. The Angels aren’t the most popular team — that’s the Dodgers.

The Angels are the most interesting team in Southern California, and it’s not just because they have no ties to Trevor Ball.

A day after Determers pitched the 12th no-hitter in franchise history, the Angels nearly stole them against the Rays in a game where Trout was out of the lineup and Daegu looked breathless series finale.

Breakthrough star Tyler Ward, who missed the first two games with a hamstring problem, closed the two-run gap with a buzzer-beater in the eighth inning. The Rays went on to win 4-2 in 10 innings, but the Angels pointed to their late game approach as a testament to how much has changed since last season.

“Even if a good pitcher comes out [of the opponent’s bullpen], there’s a sense that we can do it, and I think that’s what’s different this year,” Otani said in Japanese. “Last year, it was difficult to create that atmosphere. “

The Angels have won 13 of 20 games in 20 days and are No. 1 in the American League West.

They are the most open secrets in the region. The Dodgers are more balanced, but the Angels are more explosive. The Dodgers weakened their opponents. The angels blasted theirs.

The Angels lead the majors in scoring and OPS. Their 45 home runs are the most in baseball. Their 21 steals are third.

They had four players with six or more home runs, including Trout with nine and Ward with seven. The Dodgers’ home run leader is Mookie Betts with five.

In most of their recent games, Otani has been spinning his bat on the deck as Trout enters the batter’s box. Rendon had been waiting behind them.

None of the Dodgers’ roster is like this. The only Dodgers player with a comparable overall athleticism to Trout and Ohtani is Cody Bellinger, who has a different baseball acumen than either player.

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani steals second base before pitching to Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Tyler Walls in the fourth inning Wednesday at Angel Stadium.

(Ashley Landis/The Associated Press)

Ohtani is hitting .258 and Rendon .198, but the Angels’ core is still starting to show how much damage they can do.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday, Ohtani doubled in two runs to tie the game against the Washington Nationals. Rendon was followed by a solo to midfield, which allowed Otani to slide home for an away win.

Trout and Ohtani homered in their sixth straight inning in the series opener against the Rays on day two. In the next inning, Trout walked with full bases, creating the first major of Dagu’s career. The Angels went on to win 11-3.

Trout hit two more home runs as Determers pursued history on Tuesday night. But the highlight of the 12-0 demolition was when Rendon was clearing the walls while wearing Andrew Velazquez’s helmet.

“I guess that’s how he treated BP,” Madden said.

Madden said Javie Baze, who he coached with the Chicago Cubs, once did something similar. “I think it’s great theater,” Madden said. “I mean, baseball is looking for moments like this.”

Like the Dodgers, the Angels have a smart and capable front office led by Perry Minasian and Alex Tammin who support the team’s rotation and bullpen. But Angel also retains some old-school sensibilities.

So while the Dodgers are concerned about the adverse effects of pitcher overreach, the Angels are hoping to gain something by getting their pitchers into late pitching.

Madden was pleased to learn that Determers pitched nine innings at any level for the first time in his no-hitter.

“Now he knows he can, so here comes the seventh inning, a little uncertain, [he thinks] I can fix that,” Madden said. “That stuff is important. Those things are not enough to consider. “

That’s not to say the Angels will pitch better than the Dodgers. It won’t. The Angels don’t have the weapons collection the Dodgers have.

But that’s also a reason to focus on angels. Everyone knows where the Dodgers are in October — the playoffs. Angel? They might be there too. Or they might win less than half of their remaining games and miss the playoffs again.


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