ANAHEIM -- In a week filled with unexpected roster moves, some strong offense and home series against both of the 2020 World Series participants, this last week for the Angels was eventful.
The Halos wrapped up the seven-game homestand with a 2-1 win against the Dodgers on Sunday at Angel Stadium thanks in part to a strong performance by the bullpen, giving the Angels a Freeway Series victory against their intrastate rivals.
Here are three takeaways from the Angels’ strong finish to their homestand.
“It also could be a kind of liberating to a player when they finally know they got this opportunity and go,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He's done really well in the sub-three-whatever months he's played over the last abbreviated season. ... I don't think it's any kind of fluke. He's a pretty confident young man, very bright, so I think he sees it more as an opportunity.”
Coming into Sunday, Walsh had gone 16-for-44 (.364) with 11 RBIs over his last 12 games and was leading the Majors in RBIs dating back to Sept. 4, 2020. He added to that total against the Dodgers.
Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer had him down 0-2 in the count and Walsh worked it back to 2-2 before doubling in the only runs that the Angels pushed across against the 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner.
Walsh said he has blocked outside factors as he adjusts to the new role.
“I try to stay away from most of the social-media stuff on a regular basis, but it's cool,” Walsh said. “Main thing is going out there on a consistent basis and playing well. I just love the game. So if I can go out and give my best effort and let everything take care of itself.”
Halos pitching staff has its highs and lows
After getting swept in a four-game series by the Rays to start the homestand, the Angels responded by taking two of three games against the Dodgers, aided by quality pitching that allowed three runs combined in the two wins.
While the distance wasn’t there for José Quintana, who lasted four-plus innings and limited the Dodgers to one run while notching six strikeouts, the bullpen had his back.
Angels relievers shouldered the load in the win, combining to shut out the Dodgers for five innings while allowing four hits and four walks before they hit the road to play the Astros on Monday.
“We have to pitch well to win,” Maddon said. “So if we pitch well tomorrow, we have a chance to maintain momentum. And if we don't, it's going to be difficult.”
Mike Mayers and closer Raisel Iglesias, who earned the save, finished off the performance after both had rocky outings against Tampa Bay to start the week.
Mayers gave up four runs in one-third of an inning on Thursday, but he bounced back by striking out the side in the eighth on Sunday. After a one-inning, two-run outing on Tuesday, Iglesias shut the door on the Dodgers.
“It's all there,” Maddon said. “We just have to get their confidence built up. Keep continuing to try to put them out there at the right time, but we definitely need more length out of our starters.”
Unsung heroes stepping up
With third baseman Anthony Rendon and left fielder Justin Upton missing time this week due to injury, it was the Angels’ role players who stepped up in the final weekend against the Dodgers, both at the plate and on defense.
Second baseman Jose Rojas and right fielder Taylor Ward drove in a combined five runs on Saturday.
Despite the two going hitless on Sunday, Maddon said both have been consistent in getting quality at-bats and played solid defense. The defensive showing included a key inning-ending double play to keep the Dodgers off the scoreboard.
Maddon added that the contribution of the Angels’ depth players has emphasized his “play like it’s 1985” motto that focuses on fundamentals.
“I like the mix right now,” Maddon said. “I like the energy right now. We need to pitch consistently and just play this aggressive sort of game -- that 1985 game -- on the field.”