Don’t look now, but something really interesting in happening in Los Angeles baseball, and no, it doesn’t involve the Dodgers, Christians, nuns or their inevitable acquistion of Shohei Ohtani.
No, Ohtani’s current team, the Angels, is making a real run at the playoffs, and thanks to the overly generous Colorado Rockies pitching staff and a flurry of desperation-induced moves, last night they took several steps toward giving Ohtani, and for that matter teammate Mike Trout, a reason to believe they might actually have the potential to compete in a meaningful post-season and justify their raison d’etre for staying put.
As Sarah Valenzuela of the LOS ANGELES TIMES mused this morning, even by the generous standards usually allowed for Rockies’ pitching, last night was pretty damn special for Angels’ fans, as well as most of their starters’ statistics:
The Angels scored so many runs — they beat the Rockies 25-1 — they found themselves in unique places in baseball’s record books.
The Angels set a new franchise record for most runs scored in a single game.
The Angels also set a new franchise record for the most hits in a single game at 28.
The Angels scored 23 runs through the first four innings. It was the third-most runs scored by a team between the first and fourth innings of a game in MLB history.
The Angels scored 13 runs in the third inning, tying a franchise record for most runs scored in a single inning. During the past 50 seasons, including Saturday, a team has scored 13 or more runs in an inning of a regular-season game 20 times. The 13 runs scored in the third also represented the Rockies’ worst inning in franchise history.
And as MLB.com’s Joseph Zucker added, they’ve been as active off the field in recent days as they have been on the scoreboard:
Shortly after their lopsided victory over Colorado on Saturday, the Angels announced they acquired Mike Moustakas from the Rockies for minor league pitcher Connor Van Scoyoc.
At 42-36, the Angels are tied for the last wild-card spot in the American League. They’re looking to improve the roster around the margins as they attempt to end an eight-year playoff drought. Injuries to Anthony Rendon, Zach Neto and Gio Urshela have depleted their depth on the left side of the infield as well.
The addition of Moustakas came two days after Los Angeles traded for veteran third baseman Eduardo Escobar. Escobar started at third Saturday and went 2-for-4 with four runs scored.
Granted, beating up on the one of the worst teams in the other league isn’t necessarily a recipe for success. But considering that roughly a year ago, after an implosion at roughly the same time of year offset some early 2022 momentum that resulted in the unceremonious dismissal of beloved manager Joe Madden, this turn of events has been much more of a surprise. And the Angels have been getting some other strong performances from other newcomers, including another Rockies castoff, closer Carlos Estevez, who started the season 19 for 19 in save opportunities, and resurgent seasons from the likes of Hunter Renfroe, Brandon Marsh and Jared Walsh, trying to channel the succesess they achieved with their previous teams.
Sure, this same team was shut out at home in their two Freeway Series games earlier this week by those Dodgers, whose own desperation drove some conversation that they might try to convince Angels management to trade Ohtani before he becomes a free agent at the end of this season. Perhaps a few weeks earlier, given where the Angels were in the standings, such conversations might have been considered. Certainly, the rash of injuries they have sustained reinforced them. But with outbreaks like this, and considering they’ve got now just one fewer win at the moment than do the Dodgers, and as many as the Yankees (don’t bring up the Mets, please), those discussions are likely tabled for the moment.
Given where the news cycles of L.A. baseball have been of late, any halo effect of such positivity is more than welcome. Thank heavens.