The Los Angeles Angels return home to play the Cleveland Indians Monday night in Anaheim, Calif., hoping some late-inning dramatics in Boston on Sunday will spark a turn for the better.
The Angels were one out away from being swept by the Red Sox and losing their fifth in a row, but Mike Trout blooped a single off Red Sox closer Matt Barnes and Shohei Ohtani followed with a two-run home run to ultimately give the Angels a victory.
While Ohtani received accolades, Trout’s bloop could have more long-lasting benefits if it leads to him busting out of a recent slump.
Trout came to the plate in the ninth inning Sunday without a hit on the entire road trip to Houston and Boston (0-for-15), and 0-for-18 overall. His previous hit came May 8 against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
Trout’s longest hitless streak in his career spanned 21 at-bats in May 2018.
“We’re just going through a rough stretch right now, but it’s a long season,” Trout said. “We’ll turn it around.”
Second baseman David Fletcher, also slumping at the plate, was moved from leadoff to the No. 9 spot in the lineup on Saturday, and Sunday he got the day off.
Angels manager Joe Maddon has used Taylor Ward and Jose Rojas as the leadoff hitter the past two games, and said he’ll consider putting Trout atop the lineup, too.
Right-hander Alex Cobb, initially scheduled to start on the mound for the Angels, has been pushed back because of a blister on his finger. Left-hander Patrick Sandoval will make his first start of the season but will be limited to approximately 60 pitches.
Sandoval is 0-0 with a 6.14 ERA in three relief appearances in 2021. He made nine starts for the Angels in 2019 and six starts last year.
Sam Hentges (1-0, 3.29 ERA) will make his second career start for Cleveland, also having pitched out of the bullpen in four games. His only start came last Wednesday, when he threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs.
Hentges, who made his major league debut on April 20, is still a work in progress but the Indians have high hopes for the 24-year-old lefty.
“His command now is not what we hope it will be once he gets some starts under his belt,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s got plenty of velocity and his cutter is really maturing. His breaking ball … he’s got all the tools. He needs repetition for consistency. That has eluded him so far. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen now.”
–Field Level Media