The banged-up Los Angeles Angels will try to put another dent in the faint playoff hopes of the Cleveland Guardians as the teams continue their four-game series on Friday in Anaheim, Calif.
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The Guardians (67-74) trail the Minnesota Twins (73-67) by 6 1/2 games in the American League Central after the Angels (65-76) broke a six-game losing streak with a 3-2, walk-off win on Thursday.
The Angels have more than $100 million in salary out of the lineup with stars Shohei Ohtani (day-to-day with oblique tightness), Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon (long-term injuries) all sidelined.
Los Angeles lost two more starting hitters on Thursday before the first inning was over.
First, center fielder Mickey Moniak was scratched five minutes before game time due to back tightness.
Then utility man Luis Rengifo, the Angels‘ hottest hitter, sustained a left biceps strain while swinging a heavy bat in the on-deck circle during the first inning. Rengifo, the reigning AL Player of the Week, has raised his average to .264 by going 27-for-61 (.443) in his past 17 games.
“It doesn’t look good,” Nevin told reporters after the game regarding Rengifo. “I feel sick for him. … We’ve taken our gut punches. We lost two guys practically before the game started.
“I’m not gonna say I’ve seen it all, but I’m getting there.”
Cleveland continued to struggle at the plate on Thursday despite facing Los Angeles in a bullpen game that featured Davis Daniel tossing three shutout innings in his major league debut. The top three hitters in the Guardians‘ lineup combined for seven hits, but manager Terry Francona is looking for more.
“We had good opportunities and we didn’t cash them in,” Francona said. “Saying that, we still had a lead, and we just let it slip away. That one hurts. But we have to turn the page.”
Things could be tight again on Friday as both teams feature strong starting pitching. The Angels are 20-18 and the Guardians are 24-26 in one-run games.
Rookie left-hander Logan Allen (6-7, 3.77 ERA) will take the mound for Cleveland. He got a no-decision May 12 against the Angels in his fourth big-league start, giving up three runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 5-4 Guardians loss in Cleveland.
Angels right-hander Griffin Canning (7-5, 4.30 ERA) enters his Friday outing with 117 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings. He has struck out 331 in 314 career innings, but he has never faced Cleveland.
With the latest injuries, the Angels could recall former starter David Fletcher, who is batting .331 for Triple-A Salt Lake and has experience at second base, third base, shortstop and both corner outfield spots.
As for Ohtani, Nevin said: “He feels better. I just don’t feel comfortable with him going all out and taking a full swing like he does. I think we’re within a day or two.”
The injuries are forcing the Angels to take a good look at a pair of 21-year-old players, first baseman Nolan Schanuel and shortstop Kyren Paris.
Leadoff man Schanuel set a franchise record on Thursday by reaching base in a 16th consecutive game to start his career, breaking Darin Erstad’s mark established in 1996. Schanuel made his debut Aug. 18 after being picked 11th overall in the 2023 draft on July 9.
Paris, playing in his seventh major league game, tied contest in the ninth inning with his first career RBI.
“I definitely felt the moment,” said Paris, who reached base twice and stole two bases. “Fortunately, I came through with the big hit.”
—Field Level Media