The Los Angeles Angels have a chance to climb back over .500 after briefly getting over the hump last month.
To do so, Angels manager Joe Maddon said they’ll need to receive another solid performance from their starting pitcher on Sunday when they host the Baltimore Orioles in the finale of their three-game series in Anaheim, Calif.
The Angels have won three in a row and five of six overall to build momentum heading toward the All-Star break.
“It’s always about your next day’s starting pitcher,” Maddon said after Alex Cobb allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings in a 4-1 win against Baltimore on Saturday night. “We need to get more starts like we saw (from Cobb) in order to really get to where we want to be.”
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval is scheduled to start the series finale for the Angels.
Sandoval (2-2, 3.89 ERA) enjoyed a solid month of June, going 2-1 in four starts with a 3.97 ERA.
He didn’t surrender a hit for 4 2/3 innings in his most recent outing against the Tampa Bay Rays but departed after allowing three runs on four hits in five innings. He did not get a decision in the 6-4 win by Los Angeles on June 27.
Sandoval has yet to face the Orioles in his career.
Baltimore plans to start Thomas Eshelman, who has plenty in common with Sandoval. Both have Southern California roots, were selected in the 2015 MLB Draft and made their major-league debuts in the summer of 2019.
Eshelman (0-1, 6.57) grew up in Carlsbad and played collegiately about five miles from Angel Stadium at Cal State Fullerton. He’ll make his fourth start since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on June 18.
His most recent two outings came against the Houston Astros, the team that drafted him in the second round in 2015. Eshelman seemed to learn from the first experience.
After getting gashed for six runs on eight hits in the first outing, Eshelman allowed two runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings on Monday. The Orioles eventually posted a 9-7 win to set the tone for their three-game sweep.
One batter Eshelman might wish to avoid is Shohei Ohtani, who hit two home runs to give him a major-league leading 30 in the Angels’ 8-7 win on Friday. He walked three times Saturday, including twice intentionally.
“I just think Ohtani, right now, is the best player in the league,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s playing a different game than the rest of us.”
Eshelman gained notice at Cal State Fullerton by working his first 63 1/3 innings without walking a batter. He hasn’t shown nearly as much accuracy in the majors, walking 25 batters in 83 innings — including five in 12 1/3 innings this season.
Eshelman pitched in Anaheim in his only appearance against the Angels, allowing one run in 4 1/3 innings of long relief on July 25, 2019. He did not receive a decision.
He was long gone by the time the Orioles recorded a 10-8 win in a wild 16-inning game. The contest is best remembered for the scoreless inning of relief thrown by Baltimore outfielder Stevie Wilkerson, who became the first position player in league history to earn a save.
–Field Level Media