Los Angeles Angels: Takeaways from Games two and three

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 30: (L-R) Chris Young (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 30: (L-R) Chris Young (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

With the second and third games in the books, let’s take a dive into the Los Angeles Angels’ first victories of the season.

Game 2: Angels win 2-1

1. Mike Trout.

He hit a home run off an offspeed pitch in the lower half of the zone. Coming off a game where he failed to get a hit in six at-bats, that must’ve felt so sweet. It is things like that home run where you can’t help but marvel at the power and overall ability that Trout has to just muscle balls out of the park. It is very reminiscent of another outfielder that used to play for the Angels that also wore #27.

2. Tyler Skaggs clutched up

It did take him 98 pitches to get through six and one-third innings, but 60 of them were strikes and he only gave up three hits and struck out five. I mentioned that Skaggs needed to have a good outing to give the bullpen a bit of a break and he came through.

Blake Wood and Keynan Middleton also had better outings, which is a great sign. Blake Parker had a rough 9th inning, needing 27 pitches to get through it, but he ultimately came out with the save. The Angels need the bullpen to get better, especially the guys who are sent in to close the game out.

3. The defense is on point already

Kole Calhoun had a great diving play to save a hit and Martin Maldonado picked off Jonathan Lucroy to get out of a jam. The Angels’ defense was hyped up heading into the season, and it is easy to see why. As a fan, I am excited for a season filled with defensive gems like the ones we saw on Friday.

Game 3: Angels win 8-3

1. Mike Trout.

This is going to be a theme because it’s Mike Trout, but he had three hits today and drove in two runs, with a stolen base for good measure. His performance today was so dominant that the A’s took to Twitter to ask for some mercy. I think I’m okay with more performances from Trout like the one he had today, so I’m sorry Oakland. You’re just going to have to get used to it.

2. The top of the lineup is starting to get it together

In my recap of Opening Day, I mentioned how Trout, Pujols, and Upton combined for only two hits in 16 at bat. Today, the trio was much better, with Upton and Pujols contributing three RBI to the cause. Pujols also hit a double and seemed to be running the bases far better than he has before. It looks like he has his feet underneath him for the first time in a long time.

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3. The pitching is… well meh.

Matt Shoemaker gave up three runs in just under six innings of work with four walks and four strikeouts and threw 90 pitches in the process. It is excusable, given it’s his first start of the new season.However, issues will arise if this becomes the norm for the starters.

Richards labored through five innings on Opening Day, Skaggs almost hit 100 pitches in six innings on Friday, and now Shoemaker labored through six innings. This bullpen lacks the depth to contribute three or four innings every game, especially early in the season.

The Angels had to rely on Jim Johnson to get out of a jam. That is not ideal. Time will tell how the pitching fares, but as of right now, it is going to be a wild ride for the Angels’ arms.

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Final Thoughts

The Angels sit at 2-1 on the young season, and Sunday’s game will probably be the biggest. Shohei Ohtani is slated to take the bump, so all eyes will descend on Oakland to watch the phenom’s first crack at pitching in the bigs. If he can get through six innings on less than 100 pitches, consider it a great first start.