Opening weekend has now come and gone. It was exciting watching everyone back in action for the first time since the pandemic began.
While watching the Angels back in action for opening weekend, there are few things that became very clear in their series against the Oakland A’s.
The first is that there is a Rendon sized hole in the lineup, which should be filled soon as Anthony Rendon has been fielding and hitting batting practice prior to the games. Rendon has been out since summer camp following an oblique injury and during the July 26 match-up, it was revealed that Maddon plans to put him in the lineup as a DH and work his way back from there.
The second being that the Halos have had the same amount of hits, if not more than the A’s but have struggled to bring runners home. In each game, they would have base runners in scoring position but would fail to capitalize. With Rendon coming back into the order soon, this may change.
The issue with the last is that with Rendon coming back, Trout may soon take some leave to see the birth of his son. Prior to Sunday’s game, Trout had gone 1-for-7 in the first two games but hit his stride by hitting a 3-run shot over the left field wall. Without him, the Angels would need to fill that hole in center field and the two spot in the lineup.
The third thing, Shohei Ohtani was not himself in his pitching outing on Sunday. Obviously this was the first time he had pitched since September 2018 and just needs a bit more time to hit his stride. Hopefully, he will pitch during the Mariners series to get more time on the mound before the Houston Astros come into town.
The last thing that I noticed is that the Angels have the potential to be a contender in the AL West if everyone stays healthy, but the pitching would need to be at their top level. Aside from Ohtani, the starters fared well and the majority of the bullpen have been able to limit the runs coming in. Matt Andriese managed to stop the bleeding after coming in following Ohtani’s outing, which is a good sign for the future of this short season.
Bonus: As we have seen the international tiebreaker in more games, teams are figuring out what their strategy will be when it’s their turn.
For those who haven’t seen it or know what that is, the ITB starts during extra innings with a runner on second. The runner will usually be the final out from the previous inning, meaning it could be someone with speed or someone who isn’t as fast.
The ITB is a normal occurrence in softball and I have been on both sides of the ball. The best strategy would be to bunt the ball on a side of the field where they wouldn’t expect the batter to go in order to move the runner over.
Angels Manager Joe Maddon Told the Orange County Register, ““I think we’ve proven one thing to ourselves and to these guys, we’re just as good as them,” Maddon said. “We could play with these guys seven days a week and I’d be very happy with that. I know their reputation’s a little bit stronger than ours right now based on previous trips to the postseason, but we get Rendon back and get our guys right, and I kind of like it. I like the matchup a lot actually.”