Sandoval dazzles during year's first Maddux

Lefty faces just 1 over minimum during first career shutout

August 20th, 2022

DETROIT -- After his last start against the Twins that saw him walk four batters and allow two runs in five innings, Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval called his season frustrating and said he was embarrassed by the high walk totals in his recent outings.

But Sandoval turned it around in a big way with one of the best outings of his career against the Tigers in the series opener on Friday. Sandoval threw his first career shutout during the 1-0 win at Comerica Park, scattering four hits while striking out nine. And notably, Sandoval didn’t walk a batter for the first time all season in 20 starts. He had walked at least two batters in each of his previous 12 outings, including four in each of his past two starts.

“It’s just awesome, surreal,” Sandoval said. “It was a 1-0 [game]. I just really wanted to come through for the guys behind me. They made some really huge double plays, including one at the end. It’s just an awesome feeling.”

He needed just 97 pitches to complete the game and earned a “Maddux” along the way, meaning he threw a shutout using fewer than 100 pitches. It marked the first Maddux in MLB since Philadelphia’s Ranger Suárez did it on Sept. 25, 2021, and the first by an Angels pitcher since Ricky Nolasco accomplished the feat against the Reds on Aug. 31, 2016.

“Usually, I’m like through four innings on 97,” Sandoval said with a laugh. “So to get through nine is awesome. I was just throwing everything through the zone and I felt really good. Once I got to the fifth or sixth inning, everything started clicking. I felt better deeper in the game. I felt crisper and smoother as the game went along.”

Sandoval improved to 4-8 with a 3.14 ERA and picked up his first win since May 22, snapping a streak of 12 consecutive starts without a victory. It was the second shutout by an Angels pitcher this year, as Sandoval joined fellow lefty Reid Detmers, who threw a no-hitter against the Rays on May 10. Sandoval’s previous career high was 8 2/3 innings against the Twins on July 24, 2021.

Sandoval had everything working Friday, registering 26 swings and misses on the night. His slider was his most effective pitch, drawing 12 whiffs, but he also recorded misses with his changeup (five), four-seamer (five), sinker (three) and curveball (one). He also was helped by three double plays, one induced with his slider in the third, another with his sinker in the fifth and one on a slider in the ninth to end the game.

“He was really good,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. ”He faced the mininum after the first inning. To pitch deep into games, you have to change how you attack hitters, and it's been talked about with him. It looked like each time, he went after each hitter differently. He knew he had a lot of his pitches working tonight, so he pitched each guy differently.”

Sandoval allowed a hit to the second batter he faced, a single on a first-pitch fastball to Willi Castro. He didn’t allow another hit until the third, when Jeimer Candelario singled to left on a 1-2 changeup. Sandoval then got Victor Reyes to ground into a double play. It was more of the same in the fifth, when Miguel Cabrera singled on a 2-1 slider but was erased on an inning-ending double play off the bat of Jonathan Schoop.

No batter reached second base against Sandoval, who came back out for the ninth inning at 89 pitches. He allowed a one-out single to Reyes but got Riley Greene to ground into a double play to end the game. Sandoval smiled at the mound after completing the shutout and Nevin showed him the scorecard after the game, indicating to him that he faced the minimum after the first inning and faced just 28 batters to earn the shutout.

“I don’t even remember a three-ball count,” Nevin said. “But that’s how you pitch deep into games and complete games. That’s rare these days, so it’s something he’s going to remember for a long time.”