BALTIMORE -- After 1 1/3 innings, Dylan Bundy’s revenge game vs. his former team was over. Early on, it didn’t look like it was going to be the righty’s night. His fastball averaged 87.7 mph, well below his yearly standard, and only touched 90 mph once.
Though manager Joe Maddon had to change his game plan and turn to the bullpen early, the offense was ready to pick up the slack.
In the 14-8 win Tuesday night, the Angels scored more runs in the second inning (five) than they did the entire series in Cleveland (two). The 14 runs are the most the Halos have put up since Aug. 29, 2020. Every starter had at least two hits -- led by Brandon Marsh's 4-for-6 night -- except for Shohei Ohtani, who went 1-for-4.
“It’s one of those confidence boosters,” said Maddon on the win. “We needed that. We needed guys to feel the ball on the barrel of the bat again.”
Though it seemed like every member of the lineup was able to contribute to the offensive explosion, Maddon needed to see even small changes from the middle of the lineup.
“I'm always looking for micro improvements,” Maddon said ahead of the opener when asked what type of production he needs from the middle of his lineup. “It just doesn't go from zero to 60.”
Lucky for the skipper, his offense was as close to that type of acceleration speed as you can get.
Stassi went 2-for-5 (single and an RBI double), while Walsh recorded two singles, a walk and reached base on a fielding error.
Stassi has struggled a bit at the plate in August after a hot start to the season. Entering Tuesday, his batting average was .268, down from the .305 clip he entered the month with. His skipper believes the biggest change the catcher needs to make is to his swing -- adding a shorter and flatter approach.
For Walsh, his hands have been creeping up the bat, resulting in a .262 average entering the series opener.
“Walsh, it's just looking more familiar,” said Maddon. “I think [his hands] have been negated a bit more recently, but I think I see them coming back.”
Adding to the explosive offense, Marsh recorded the first four-hit game of his career, a byproduct of those same small adjustments.
“I just see an overall better approach,” said Maddon. “I think I've seen better decision making, because he is a good decision-maker. I think that's the one thing that maybe, as he came up in the Minor Leagues, got a little bit off track, but it looks like he's getting back on track. I do believe you're going to continue to see that.”
The rookie had four singles, two of which drove in runs marking the second multi-RBI game of his career.
“Nothing really changed,” said Marsh when asked what adjustments he’s made. “Just been sticking to the routine and things are clicking personally right now. Obviously, if you watch the game, for all of us. Everyone was good … just went out there and grinded it out.”
This type of game is a confidence booster and came at the right time for this club. The Angels’ skipper knows that outcomes like this help boost the mood in the clubhouse and may snap players out of a funk. Marsh reiterated that point, walking away feeling more confident after the plate with each rep he takes.
“Marsh, like a lot of these guys, just stay in your lane, man,” said Maddon. “Force them into your lane and then just do some damage. That's what we got to do.”