Surging Angels look to sweep reeling Diamondbacks

MLB

The Los Angeles Angels have a .500 record for the first time in six weeks and don’t want to stop there heading into the finale of their three-game series against the host Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday in Phoenix.

The Angels have won the first two games of the series and a season-high five straight overall to lift their record to 32-32.

Los Angeles rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Diamondbacks 8-7 on Saturday, handing them their ninth straight loss.

“I could not be more impressed with this group,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Now, we have to continue one game at a time. But the next goal is five over (.500) and then 10 over, etc.”

Maddon hopes left-hander Patrick Sandoval will continue making big strides as a major league starting pitcher when he takes the mound in the series finale.

Sandoval (0-2, 3.62 ERA) is coming off one of the most impressive performances of the season, at least from an analytical perspective.

The Seattle Mariners swung and missed at 32 of Sandoval’s pitches in his last outing on Sunday, the most swing-and-misses against a pitcher in the majors this season and the most by an Angels hurler since pitch tracking began in 2008.

Unfortunately for the Angels, his 10 strikeouts didn’t impact the result.

Sandoval allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings and left with the Angels trailing 3-1. Los Angeles eventually lost 9-5, keeping Sandoval winless in seven appearances this season, including four starts.

Maddon has always been confident that Sandoval can deliver the quality pitches needed to succeed at the major league level, he just needed to believe he belonged on a big league roster.

“He’s taking the opportunity and running with it,” Maddon said. “For me, he’s just more comfortable in his major league skin. Just the way he’s going about his day, even when he’s not pitching.”

Maddon said Sandoval has benefited from sharing the same clubhouse as veteran pitchers Andrew Heaney, Tony Watson and Dylan Bundy.

“I think he’s morphing into a better version of a major league pitcher just by handling the moment,” Maddon said. “I think stuff-wise, he’s the same, but it’s a better application of his stuff.”

The Diamondbacks are scheduled to start right-hander Jon Duplantier in the series finale.

Duplantier (0-2, 10.03) has made three previous starts for Arizona this season and needs to impress if he hopes to remain in the rotation.

His most recent outing came on Tuesday against the Oakland Athletics. He was solid for three innings before the first four batters reached in the fourth. Arizona’s bullpen allowed all three inherited runners to score and the Diamondbacks eventually lost 5-2.

“The thing that I think we’ve seen are these really good moments and it’s just a lack of consistency,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said of Duplantier. “It’s a challenge for a pitcher. We understand this is a challenging level and there’s going to be some growth and development. I think he has that type of stuff where he can be a very good major league pitcher for a long, long time. It’s about finding that consistency and hitting that sweet spot.”

–Field Level Media

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