Taylor Ward ending season on high note as Angels beat Athletics

This season hasn’t been the nicest for Taylor Ward. However, the way he’s wrapping it up shows he’s a player who could still be worthy of praise in the seasons to come.

“I’ve learned a lot this year,” Ward said this month. “It started out very hot and cooled down a bit. Puts just one season in perspective of how things are going and how they can change drastically.

“You’ll probably take a couple of weeks off [when the season ends] and then focus on getting bigger, stronger, and faster. I think the most important thing for me is to keep training well [in the offseason] and eat healthy and just get healthy again.”

Ward was on his toes through September.

He went two for four with a pair of singles and also stole a base in the Angels’ 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.

In his last 22 games before Tuesday, he hit .325 with an on-base plus slugging percentage of .926. He had four doubles and four homers in his 25 hits over that span, and contributed 13 RBIs and 13 runs.

His most recent nine-game hit streak, which ended Saturday, included his ninth three-on-four game of the season, his 30th multi-hit game of the year and a two-homer game. Those numbers pale in comparison to the trajectory he was on in May before injuries slowed him down.

Ward got off to the best start of his career, during a season in which he struggled with a groin injury before a neck jab on May 20 and a minor right thigh strain on June 3 handicapped him for almost half of the season Junis paused.

Before he got on the injured list, Ward hit .333 with 1.087 OPS — he had an MLB-leading 1.197 OPS at one point — and was a solid All-Star contender. Hitting coach Jeremy Reed still believes an All-Star berth is in Ward’s future.

“I thought he was quite capable of having a place in that roster,” Reed said this month. “It was an opportunity that will not remain just an opportunity. There will be multiple opportunities to participate in this game.”

Ward’s return from the IL on June 14 was not a complete return to form, and as the season wore on fatigue wore him down even more.

“I think injuries have taken their toll, but I’m just trying to stick with the process and keep trusting in your abilities even when you’re not feeling 100%,” Ward said. “You have to somehow convince yourself that everything is okay. Try not to think about it too much. That was one thing I learned a little bit, just not worrying and trying to focus on what you have to do when you’re in the pits.”

In the two months (June 14 to August 14) after his return from the IL, Ward was inconsistent, hitting .222 with .630 OPS.

“They really spend most of their time trying to figure out what the problem is,” Ward said. “You still want to be yourself, and it’s just a little tinkering here and there instead of overhauling something.”

Of Ward’s slump, Reed said, “There’s also some adjustments that pitchers make and then injuries and the fatigue and the length of the season, those are all factors. You see They see [Mike Trout]can you see it [Shohei Ohtani], you see the players for who they are and they go through. They all go through different routes.

“Ultimately, it’s really about how short you can keep the bad streaks and how long you can stretch out the good streaks. It’s just good to see him using his full potential for a good stretch, and now we need to minimize the other stretches.

Jo Adell lifts Angels in victory

Angels' Matt Duffy meets Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy before a throw.

Angels’ Matt Duffy meets Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy before a throw in the eighth inning Tuesday at Angel Stadium.

(Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

Jo Adell’s RBI single in the eighth inning – scored by Matt Duffy, who reached base after being hit by a pitch – was the tie hit and propelled the Angels to a win over the Athletics.

It wasn’t Adell’s only big moment of the evening. In the fifth inning, he robbed Dermis Garcia of a potential home run and vaulted along the left field wall to make the catch.

He cheered in celebration of the game and received applause from Patrick Sandoval, who had already given up three runs.

Sandoval went 5 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and three runs.

All three A runs were scored in the second inning. But the Angels connected it with three of their own late in the inning.

Mike Ford and Duffy got back-to-back hits from A’s starter James Kaprielian. Matt Thaiss drove the first runner, Ford, on a single of his own. Duffy was brought in by Livan Soto with a sacrificial bow tie and Thaiss was brought in with Luis Rengifo’s single.

Soto, who had an exciting start in the big leagues this month, also hit his first career triple in sixth place.

Anthony Rendon update

Anthony Rendon took live pitches from three Angels minor leagues, Caden Dana, Chase Chaney and Mason Albright, ahead of Tuesday’s game.

“He swung the bat well, he felt good,” said Phil Nevin, Angels interim manager. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow when he goes in. We’ll have some pitchers here to toss him back tomorrow if he feels like it.”

It is planned that he will continue to take live pitches as part of his further development.

There are eight games left this season.

Archie Bradley’s return

Back-up pitcher Archie Bradley was activated from the injury list ahead of Tuesday’s game, nearly three months to the day after he broke his elbow falling over the dugout railing while attempting to lead to a brawl between his team and the Seattle to get to Mariners.

“Even for the first few days after the rupture, I didn’t think I would be standing here pitching this season,” Bradley said. “I’m just happy that I’ve been able to recover and be here and be with the lads and wrap up the season in the big leagues.

“When I lie down at night, I still think about the season and the impact I could have had,” he said. “I’m not saying things would have been different, but I think I’m bringing something to the table. So it starts by showing Perry [Minasian]show the Angels I’m still a top-notch major league pitcher.”

Bradley, who has signed a one-year contract with the Angels, will become a free agent after this season.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/angels/story/2022-09-27/taylor-ward-angels-athletics-mlb-recap Taylor Ward ending season on high note as Angels beat Athletics

Emma Bowman

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