Backed by Ohtani HR, 'gutty' Sandoval gets it done

2 years ago

Sandoval grinded his way through 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and four walks to help lead the Angels to a 4-1 win in the series finale. He improved to 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 33 innings over six starts this season. He doesn’t have enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, but his ERA ranks sixth in the American League among pitchers with at least 30 innings.

“I’ll take that every time, especially with the stuff I had today,” Sandoval said. “I’m still trying to find my changeup and luckily I got away with 6 1/3. I don’t want to get into jams but when you’re in them, you’ve got to get out of it, and I think I did a pretty good job of that today.”

Sandoval’s escape work helped the Angels exorcise their recent demons at the Coliseum, as they won three out of four games to mark their first series win in Oakland since May 27-29, 2019. Their last series win in a four-game series in Oakland came in their first series of the 2018 season. With the win, the Angels improved to 24-13 on the year, marking the first time they’ve been 11 games over .500 since July 28, 2015.

Sandoval also gave the Angels much-needed length after a doubleheader on Saturday, as top relievers Raisel Iglesias, Ryan Tepera, Aaron Loup and Oliver Ortega were all unavailable on Sunday. It didn’t look like Sandoval was going to be able to pitch deep into the game early, however, as he threw 25 pitches in the first inning after Shohei Ohtani gave the Angels an early lead with a two-run homer in the first. But Sandoval pitched his way out of a jam with the bases loaded in the first, and settled down from there.

“Not great command overall, but he’s capable of doing that,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s hard to put him into play hard. It’s hard to square him up. So even when he’s off a little bit with this command, he throws a variety of pitches that make it difficult and even if he gets a baserunner or two, he can get out of it because of his swing-and-miss [stuff].”

The lone run he allowed came in the third, when the first two batters reached before Chad Pinder dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Sean Murphy followed with an RBI groundout to shortstop, but that was all Oakland could muster on the afternoon.

A’s manager Mark Kotsay was impressed by the way Sandoval minimized damage against his club.

“I think Patrick Sandoval is one of the better lefties in the game right now,” Kotsay said. “He has command of five pitches. The slider just has some depth to it. Our right-handed hitters were swinging over the top of it. In my vision, he’s a top-notch left-handed pitcher in this league.”

Sandoval entered the game without giving up a hit on his changeup, as hitters were 0-for-30 on the pitch before Elvis Andrus broke that streak with a leadoff single on an 0-2 offering in the second. Jed Lowrie also singled on a changeup in the fifth and the A’s had two runners in scoring position with two outs, but Sandoval struck out Murphy on a slider to escape the jam. He recorded nine swings-and-misses with his slider, but just one with his changeup.

“I didn’t have the changeup and they hit it twice for hits,” Sandoval said. “I had to go with something that worked, and the slider was the pitch.”

He came back out for the seventh despite having thrown 94 pitches and exited after a walk to Cristian Pache and a sacrifice bunt from Tony Kemp. Sandoval tied a season-high with 101 pitches and was replaced by Jimmy Herget, who threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings to finish the game and earn his first career save.

“I was a closer in the Minors all the way to Triple-A and it was always a goal of mine to get one in the big leagues, and I got it the hard way,” Herget said. “But [Sandoval] was unbelievable. Just a gutty performance. We played 18 innings yesterday and didn’t have a lot of arms available so it was unbelievable for him to go out there and grind the way he did.”