Angels struggle at the plate, striking out 16 times vs. Mets

It was hard to tell where Saturday night’s game ended and Sunday afternoon’s game began for the Angels, so blurred was the line between the two.

The momentum the Angels created with their 11-run, 15-hit shellacking against the New York Mets on Saturday flowed straight into Sunday, the Angels racking up four hits and scoring one in the first inning of the series finale.

But then, to steal a phrase former manager Joe Maddon used in Philadelphia last weekend before being fired Tuesday amid a 14-game losing streak, it was as if the Angels “turned off the tap.”

The shadows of a 4:00 p.m. start and nasty split-finger fastball from Mets right-hander Taijuan Walker took over, the Angels managed two singles and hit 16 times in the last eight innings of a 4-1 loss to 36,598 at Angel Stadium.

“We swung the bats great — when you get four hits in an inning you think you could get more than a point,” interim manager Phil Nevin said.

“But as you know, in a 4 p.m. game, it’s extremely difficult to see a batsman.”

Brandon Marsh opened the first with a double to the right and met Mike Trout’s single to the left. Anthony Rendon ended up in a doubles game. Jared Walsh, freshly batted for the cycle the night before, lined a single to the left and Matt Duffy played to the right before Juan Lagares flew to the center to end the inning.

But the Angels only managed two runners to second base the rest of the game. Walker used his shard to end eight of his ten strikeouts. Seth Lugo hit four outs in seventh and eighth, and closer Edwin Díaz hit five of six Angels for a five-out save, his blistering 101.6 mph fastball hitting the top.

“I’m not trying to make any excuses, but 4 o’clock games, that’s hard to see,” Trout said. “It’s agony. You feel so good up there and it’s just hard to see.”

Also in defence. With Trout, the usual center fielder, as the designated hitter, Nevin started utility man Tyler Wade, an infielder who made just one of his 14 outfield starts in center field for the Yankees from 2017-2021, at center.

Corner outfielders Lagares and Marsh are accomplished center fielders, but Nevin “loved the way Tyler played at New York Center,” he said, “and you don’t want to move guys everywhere, especially dynamic defenders like Marshy and Juan. ”

However, that decision backfired in the third inning. Brandon Nimmo played down the middle and Starling Marte drove a ball down the middle that Wade misjudged and came in before the ball sailed well over his head for an RBI double and a 1-1 tie.

“The ball straight at you is the hardest,” said Wade, who made a nice jump catch on the warning lane for the first out of the game. “The combination of shadows and the inability to see the ball from the racquet made it more difficult.”

JD Davis hammered a first-pitch fastball from Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval for a solo homer to the left to give the Mets a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
It was the first homer conceded this season by Sandoval, who gave up two carries and eight hits in six innings, eight struck and two walked.

Pete Alonso drove in New York’s last two runs with a single in the seventh and his 18th homer, a solo shot in front of Angels seamstress Raisel Iglesias, in the ninth.

Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval delivers in the first inning of Sunday's loss to the New York Mets.

Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval delivers in the first inning of Sunday’s loss to the New York Mets.

(Alex Gallardo/Associated Press)

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was only absent from the lineup for the fourth time in 62 games, but Nevin said it had nothing to do with the two-way star’s hard slide into the plate in the third inning on Saturday night.

“He’s fine,” Nevin said. “It’s more of a common thing and he needs it. He came to me at the end [Saturday’s] game and suggested it.

“I know he acts like Superman all the time, but I think Superman used to take a day off.”

Ohtani is batting .355 (11 for 31) with two homers and five RBIs in his last eight games, but Nevin felt it was more important to seed Ohtani for Sunday’s nationally televised game and cap it with Monday’s rest day for two rest days combine.

“Everyone takes days off,” Nevin said. “This happens to be a Sunday and it’s on ESPN, and I know a lot of people are upset about it. But the better Shohei is at the end of the season, the more games we’ll be playing in prime time, and many of them in October so they can watch him play.” Angels struggle at the plate, striking out 16 times vs. Mets

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