Patrick Sandoval delivers another commanding performance in Angels’ victory
Patrick Sandoval did not look too pleased for a guy who had just thrown 7 1/3 dominant innings to lead the Angels to an eventual 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics before 40,042 at Angel Stadium on Sunday.
When manager Joe Maddon emerged from the dugout to pull the left-hander with two on and one out in the eighth, Sandoval took a long stroll toward the second-base bag, turned around and climbed back up the mound.
He did not hand the ball to his manager, as pitchers usually do. He made Maddon take the ball out of his glove. Sandoval shook his head as he walked to the dugout and slammed his glove on the bench.
“He has an attitude about him, and I mean that in the best of ways,” Maddon said of Sandoval, who gave up one run and four hits, struck out seven and walked one. “He does not want to come out. He wants to pitch nine innings. He wants to be that guy. He wants to lead the staff. I love it.”
This, Maddon believes, is part of the maturation process for a good young pitcher. Sandoval struggled to control his emotions as times during his first three years in the big leagues, when he went 4-15 with a 4.42 ERA in 36 games for the Angels from 2019 to 2021.
The 25-year-old from Mission Viejo High has shown more poise on the mound this season and has established himself as one of the game’s best young left-handers, with a 3-1 record and 1.79 ERA in his first seven starts, six of which the Angels have won.
But Sandoval is also getting a little feisty, maybe a bit greedy, wanting to pitch deeper into games, wanting to throw his first shutout or complete game, maybe even a no-hitter. The kinds of things an ace is supposed to do.
And when he comes up short, as he did Sunday, when an eighth-inning fly ball was lost in the sun and he walked a batter to bring the tying run to the plate, he will get mad at himself.
“Yeah, just frustrated with how I couldn’t rebound from the double, and then I give up a bloop hit and a walk,” Sandoval said. “It’s not the best way to come out of a game. There’s never a time where I want to give the ball up.”
Maddon found no flaws in Sandoval’s start. The velocity of Sandoval’s fastball was down a tick, but he located the four-seamer well. His usually devastating changeup was on point. His slider was excellent. He did not give up a hit until the fifth inning. He did not allow a runner to reach second base for seven innings.
“Outstanding,” Maddon said. “This is turning into a typical performance for him.”
Sandoval retired 10 consecutive batters to open the game before second baseman Luis Rengifo’s fielding error in the fourth. The pitcher responded by striking out Jed Lowrie with an 83-mph changeup and Sean Murphy with an 86-mph slider.
“He picked up his teammate,” Maddon said of Sandoval. “That, to me, is a real indicator of a leader on the mound.”
Kevin Smith broke up Sandoval’s no-hit bid with a one-out single to center in the fifth. Rengifo then fielded Elvis Andrus’ sharp grounder to start an inning-ending double play.
His pitch count at 82 through seven scoreless innings, Sandoval seemed poised to finish what he started. But his afternoon quickly unraveled in the eighth when Tyler Wade, an infielder starting in right field in place of the injured Taylor Ward, lost Smith’s fly ball in the sun, the ball dropping for a leadoff double.
Smith took third on Andrus’ groundout and scored on Cristian Pache’s soft single to center to cut the Angels’ lead to 4-1. Luis Barrera walked to put two on.
Maddon summoned right-hander Ryan Tepera, who struck out Sheldon Neuse with a 92-mph sinker and pinch-hitter Seth Brown with a 93-mph sinker. Closer Raisel Iglesias struck out the side in the ninth inning for his 11th save.
Tepera rebounded from his rocky outing at Texas on Tuesday, when he failed to retire any of the five batters he faced in a 10-5 loss, by retiring all five of the Oakland batters he faced over the weekend. Iglesias notched saves Saturday and Sunday after giving up walk-off homers in his previous two appearances.
Facing pressure to delay or cancel the Angel Stadium sale amid a corruption probe, the Angels gave the City Council 25 days to grant final approval.
“That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” Maddon said. “We’ve got a really good back end of the bullpen. You don’t run away from them because they’ve had a difficult time. You want to get them back out there more often, not less often.”
Mike Trout paced the offense with a double in the first, an RBI infield single in the second, a walk in the fifth and a solo homer to left — his 12th of the season — in the seventh.
Shohei Ohtani opened the bottom of the first by crushing a hanging curveball from A’s left-hander Cole Irvin 443 feet to center for his ninth homer of the season.
“Majestic,” Maddon said, when asked how he would describe Ohtani’s towering shot, which left his bat at 109 mph. “And pin high.”
Kurt Suzuki and Andrew Velazquez singled in the second ahead of Trout’s RBI single, which made it 2-0. Trout walked to lead off the fifth, took second on Matt Duffy’s single and scored on Brandon Marsh’s two-out, bloop single to center for a 3-0 lead.
Ward, who has a major league-leading .370 batting average and 1.194 on-base-plus-slugging percentage to go with nine homers and 23 RBIs, missed his second straight game because of neck and right shoulder injuries suffered when he slammed face-first into the wall while catching Tony Kemp’s drive Friday night.
Ward said he will undergo an MRI exam Monday “just to be safe” but expects to play Tuesday night against Texas.
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