ANAHEIM -- The Angels had their lineup at full strength for the first time all season, and it showed, as they received hits from all nine starters to back right-hander Griffin Canning's solid outing in an 8-3 win over the A’s in the series opener on Thursday night at Angel
ANAHEIM -- The Angels had their lineup at full strength for the first time all season, and it showed, as they received hits from all nine starters to back right-hander Griffin Canning's solid outing in an 8-3 win over the A’s in the series opener on Thursday night at Angel Stadium.
The Angels are two games above .500 for the first time this year, as they improved to 42-40 with a victory in the first game of the second half of their schedule. They previously reached one game above .500 four times this season at 7-6, 8-7, 38-37 and 41-40.
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“We're as deep as I think we’ve been since I've been here, honestly,” said veteran Kole Calhoun, who has been with the club since 2012. “One through nine, we have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things. Definitely fun to play with. This is what we’ve been waiting for since Spring Training. Get [Shohei] Ohtani back, get [Justin] Upton back. Missing [Andrelton] Simmons and get him back tonight. You look up and down, and there are a lot of guys who can do a lot of things to beat you.”
Offense supports Canning
Canning, making his 11th career start, again showed why the Angels are so high on the 23-year-old. The righty allowed two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out six to improve to 3-4 with a 3.79 ERA. Canning threw 91 pitches and registered 14 swing-and-misses, getting five with his fastball, five with his changeup and four with his slider.
"It's kind of been the same thing I've been battling all year, just staying aggressive," Canning said. "It was a good test for me, because I've been working on sticking to my strengths. Just being aggressive with all my pitches. Not giving the hitters too much credit."
Canning gave up an early run on a solo homer to Ramon Laureano in the second, then allowed a second solo shot to Matt Olson in the fourth. But the only other hit Canning allowed was a single to Marcus Semien in the sixth, and he escaped that inning with the help of a double play. Canning has faced Oakland three times, posting a 3.50 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 18 innings.
Offense powers Angels to fourth straight win
Canning received plenty of run support from the Angels, who saw the return of shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who had been out since May 21 with a left ankle sprain. Calhoun opened the scoring with a two-run homer off right-hander Tanner Anderson in the second to give the Angels an early lead.
The Halos scored five runs in the third, keyed by a two-run blast by Shohei Ohtani. Albert Pujols plated a run with an RBI single to center, and then showed he's healthy by tagging up from first on a fly ball to right from Simmons. That set up a two-out, two-run single from rookie Luis Rengifo, who went 3-for-4 as he continues to improve at the plate.
“When you have guys like [Tommy] La Stella, [Mike] Trout, Ohtani, Upton and Calhoun, there’s just no break in the lineup,” manager Brad Ausmus said. ”You can continue all the way down, but there’s no break in the lineup, and that means they’ve got to grind and concentrate over every single pitch because if they make a mistake, like Ohtani, they can hit it over the wall.”
The Angels tacked on another run in the sixth on an RBI single from Trout, who was the last hitter in the lineup to get a hit. Trout, who before the game became the first Angels player to be elected as an All-Star starter seven times, ripped an RBI single to left to score Simmons, who led off the frame with a single.
"That’s a recipe for a lot of wins," Calhoun said. "We only hit two homers, but we still put up eight runs. Take away those, and we still win that ballgame."
Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.