ANAHEIM -- Without two-way star Shohei Ohtani and the emerging Jared Walsh in the starting lineup for Game 1 of Thursday’s seven-inning doubleheader against the Twins at Angel Stadium, the Angels received some offensive production from an unlikely candidate.
Phil Gosselin, who started at first base, provided the Angels with the offense that they needed to take Game 1 by the final of 7-1 after he homered en route to finishing 2-for-3 with four RBIs. Gosselin wasted no time giving the Halos the lead, as he jumped on the first pitch that he saw from Minnesota starter Lewis Thorpe and sent the lefty’s fastball 425 feet to left field for his first home run of the season in the first inning.
He added to his day with a bases-clearing double to left field in the second inning.
“It's not surprising at all,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “And especially against a left-hander. He's got a live bat, [the] ball comes off hot. Even that second one was a full-count double. I mean, that was just a flick that was [at the] bottom of the zone [and he] flicked it. Got enough of it. I think the wind was our friend today on fly balls to left, but he can hit, this is not a surprise.”
Gosselin highlighted an Angels offense that strung together 10 hits and homered twice, including a two-run blast to left field from Taylor Ward in the fifth inning.
Gosselin was in the Angels' lineup for a reason, having entered play Thursday a career .289 hitter against left-handed pitching, including a .756 OPS, across 282 plate appearances in his nine Major League seasons.
The big day is a long time coming for Gosselin. Both the homer and multi-RBI day marked the first time that Gosselin has done so in a Major League game since Aug. 18, 2020, during his time with the Phillies. Coincidentally, the last time that Gosselin had a four-RBI day with a home run came on Sept. 1, 2015, in Game 1 of a doubleheader while he was with the D-backs.
Since making his season and club debut on May 4, Gosselin has slashed .311/.354/.489 through his first 45 at-bats and is hitting .353 with five extra-base hits and six RBIs over his last 11 games.
Coming out of Spring Training, Gosselin didn’t fill up the stat sheet. He had hit just .105 through his first 15 Cactus League games before eventually going 4-for-7 over his last six games to finish his spring batting .231 and slugging .615.
Maddon said the end of spring results showed him what Gosselin was able to do when given a chance -- and with the added opportunities over the month of May, the infielder has made the most of them.
“This is who he is,” Maddon said. “It's not like there's an ascension of sorts. I think [the difference is] more playing more than anything, probably. … So no surprise, he's going to do this. I don't know how long he's going to play baseball, but he's going to do this wherever he's at.”