December 1, 2022

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For first time since TJ surgery, Thor works 7 frames

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BOSTON — After being forced to miss his start last Friday due to a non-COVID-related illness, Noah Syndergaard returned to the mound to provide the Angels with a season-high seven innings in a 4-0 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

The outing was the right-hander’s longest since Sept. 29, 2019 (seven innings vs. Atlanta), prior to his Tommy John surgery which took away his 2020 season and the majority of his 2021 campaign.

“It felt really nice to be able to go out there for seven innings and give the bullpen a much-needed day of rest,” said Syndergaard, who threw 100 pitches, his most in a game since Sept. 18, 2019 (108 vs. Colorado). “We just got beat tonight. That’s the beautiful thing about baseball, we’ve got another one tomorrow.”

The Angels’ starter looked to have fully shaken off any residual effects from the illness which canceled his start last week, needing just seven pitches to get through the first inning and six pitches to get three outs in the second.

Entering a scoreless fourth inning having thrown just 28 pitches, Syndergaard saw pitch No. 29 leave the park in a hurry as Rafael Devers took the first offering of the frame and deposited it 437 feet into the center-field seats, sparking a two-run inning for the home team.

“You got to tip your hat to that one,” Syndergaard said of the first home run he has allowed in an Angels uniform. “It’s 0-0, first pitch of the inning. If I could have that one back, I probably wouldn’t have thrown that pitch. He’s super aggressive up there.”

Aided by a strong defensive effort, Syndergaard was able to make it through the seventh inning after allowing just one runner to reach in the fifth.

“I thought our defense was outstanding, the pitcher pitched well. Normally, we win games like that,” said Angels manager Joe Maddon. “A game like that, you just go in and you take a shower, go home and come back.”

The seventh saw the first two batters reach via single against Syndergaard before a Trevor Story sacrifice fly made it 3-0. Still, the Angels hurler was able to push through to the end of the frame and hit the century mark for pitches in the process.

Despite a second consecutive loss, the Angels are looking at the positive, most notably the continued strength of their ace who finished the first month with his new team with a 2-1 record and a 2.63 ERA.

“I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I think that’s just the name of the game when it comes to recovering from Tommy John surgery and not pitching for a few years,” he said. “It’s helping me focus on pitching instead of throwing. Once I’m able to get back to my full self, I think it’s going be better than it was before, because I’m able to throw some actual pitches.

“We’ve got a really good medical staff, strength and conditioning. I trust them to get me back out there in six days or whenever it is.”

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