ANAHEIM -- After their brawl with the Mariners on Sunday, several Angels players said they believed the incident would only bring the club even closer together going forward and that they felt like they could build on their win in the series finale.
The Angels kept their momentum going on Monday despite having to weather the announcement of the suspensions of interim manager Phil Nevin, four players and four coaches. They came through with a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the White Sox in the series opener at Angel Stadium. It gave the Angels one-run wins in back-to-back games for the first time since June 11-12, 2021, and marked the first time they won consecutive home games this year since May 22-24.
"It stinks not having everyone here,” said Brandon Marsh, who went 3-for-4 and made a great sliding catch in left field in the sixth inning. “But whatever happened, happened. And we're going to make do with what we've got. When 6:30 or 7 o'clock comes, we're going to strap it on and go. That's the way we look at it."
With Nevin suspended for 10 games, bench coach Ray Montgomery served as the acting manager on Monday. But Montgomery will also have to serve a two-game suspension beginning Sunday, when bullpen coach Dom Chiti finishes serving his five-game suspension that began Monday. Montgomery said he didn’t find out he’d be managing until a few hours before first pitch.
Nevin, who was technically credited with the win, watched the game in a suite, along with Chiti and interpreter Manny Del Campo, who also received a two-game suspension.
“I’d like to say it was just like being in that position standing next to Joe [Maddon] or Nevin, but it’s not,” Montgomery said. “Obviously, people are looking to you to be ready and prepared. And I had plenty of time to get prepared. I’m kidding. But you have to be responsible to those guys and make sure they have what they need and I’m prepared for whatever comes.”
The Angels are playing a man short against the White Sox, as reliever Andrew Wantz was handed a three-game suspension for intentionally throwing at Jesse Winker on Sunday. But fellow relievers Ryan Tepera and Raisel Iglesias -- who were both suspended for two games -- appealed their suspensions, which allowed them to play key roles in Monday’s win.
Tepera threw a perfect eighth inning in relief of right-hander Noah Syndergaard, while Iglesias picked up his 14th save of the year with a scoreless ninth. It helped the Angels improve to 6-12 in one-run games this year, as winning close games has been an issue.
“I think it’s a [testament] to the guys in that room that we grinded this one out,” Montgomery said. “They were committed all the way to the end. These close games are fun when you win them but tough when you don’t. But tonight was good.”
Syndergaard kept the Angels in the game through seven efficient innings, allowing three runs on six hits while tying a season high with seven strikeouts. He was staked to an early two-run lead, keyed by an RBI triple from Marsh, but gave up two runs in the sixth and another in the seventh to put the Angels down by a run. Syndergaard, though, still came away pleased with his outing, as he also registered 17 swings and misses among his 79 pitches, including six with his slider.
"I felt it was really positive,” Syndergaard said. “It was one of my best ones of the year. I was executing for the most part. My slider is getting better. Everything is getting better and I'm trusting my delivery more.”
Taylor Ward was the hero in the seventh with a go-ahead two-run double to right-center after Max Stassi drew a leadoff walk and Marsh singled. Andrew Velazquez bunted over both runners before Ward smacked a double just out of the reach of Luis Robert in center field. Marsh stayed near second base in case he had to tag up and was nearly thrown out at home plate, but White Sox catcher Seby Zevala couldn’t handle the throw home and Marsh scored the go-ahead run.
Syndergaard called it a "complete team win" and said the Angels were able to put Sunday’s scuffle with the Mariners behind them.
"I think the team as a whole has a short-term memory,” Syndergaard said. “Today was a new day. Yesterday was in the past. We focused on playing as a team and playing good baseball and we came out on the other side of things."