Sandoval perseveres despite missing best stuff

May 2nd, 2022

CHICAGO -- Angels lefty  entered his start against the White Sox with a perfect 0.00 ERA, as he hadn't allowed an earned run through his first 15 innings over three outings.

But that changed in a 3-0 loss to Chicago on Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field, when Sandoval gave up three runs on six hits and three walks over six innings. His scoreless streak ended early, as he surrendered two runs in the opening frame. He fell to 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21 innings this season.

"He wasn't as sharp as he could be,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “His changeup wasn't as pertinent. But the fastball and the slider were good. He definitely kept us in a position to win the game."

Sandoval struck out a season-low two batters and didn’t get any swings and misses with his fastball. He did get eight whiffs with his changeup and three with his slider, but he said his changeup wasn’t as effective as it usually is. His changeup is regarded as one of the best pitches in baseball, but he just didn’t have it going against Chicago.

"It wasn't really there today,” Sandoval said. “It was on and off. I was very inconsistent with it. So I had to try to find a way to get through some innings. I went pretty heavily with the slider. That was probably my best pitch today in the zone."

Sandoval ran into trouble right away, surrendering a leadoff single to Tim Anderson on his second pitch of the game. And then he surrendered a single to Luis Robert that left fielder couldn't handle. It appeared to be a catchable ball, but Adell misplayed it and then booted it for an error that allowed both runners to advance. It was another mistake from Adell, who has struggled defensively again this season.

Maddon said he couldn’t tell from the dugout if it was a catchable ball, but he noted that Adell’s defense needs to improve and that he’s constantly working at it.

"It looked like he was trying to prevent it from going to the wall,” Maddon said. “When he bobbled it, it allowed the runners to advance. He could've picked that up more cleanly. That was the part of the play that hurt."

Sandoval gave up his first run of the season on an RBI groundout from AJ Pollock before losing his command and walking José Abreu and Yasmani Grandal to load the bases. After a mound visit by pitching coach Matt Wise, Sandoval settled down and got Jake Burger to fly out to center for a sacrifice fly before striking out Adam Engel to escape further damage. Sandoval seemed to get into a better rhythm after the first inning, as he retired 11 of the next 14 batters he faced.

"After the first inning, I felt like I bounced back pretty well,” Sandoval said. “Six innings with three runs with the stuff I had today, I'll take that any time I have that kind of stuff. The name of the game is to leave with your team having a chance to win and I think that's what I did today."

But Sandoval did give up a run in his final inning after surrendering a leadoff single to Abreu to open the sixth. Abreu eventually came around to score on a two-out RBI double from Engel. Sandoval then got Gavin Sheets to ground out to end his outing after 96 pitches.

"Their add-on run obviously hurt,” Maddon said. “The double down the left-field line. I thought we pitched well, but they just pitched better.”

Sandoval also didn’t get much help from the offense, as the Angels recorded just two hits in the loss. Right-hander Dylan Cease threw seven scoreless innings and tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts. The Angels had to settle for a series split as a result, as they won two of their four games in Chicago despite getting shut out twice.

"Cease was outstanding," Maddon said. "He was really good and so was their relief pitching."