'Honestly, it was my best': Soriano deals in career-best outing

Neto-led outburst backs righty's gem as Halos respond to 'tremendous' pregame meeting

June 13th, 2024

PHOENIX -- With his young team, manager Ron Washington has had an emphasis on bringing a classroom-like setting with meetings to stress accountability before each game.

Before Wednesday’s contest against the D-backs, Washington and his coaches held a particularly lengthy session, as the skipper saw things from his position players he wanted to have addressed. Washington said he didn’t plan to speak, but his staff urged him to say a few words and he loved the way his players responded, including four standing up to address their teammates.

That meeting paid immediate dividends, as the Angels scored early and often in an 8-3 win at Chase Field. They received a career-high eight-plus innings from in a dominant start and scored in each of the first four innings, including receiving a solo homer from in the second and a three-run blast from Jo Adell in the fourth. Neto led the way by going 3-for-5 with a double and a homer and believed the team meeting was beneficial.

“Accountability was what it was about,” Neto said. “I’m not going to get too into detail about it but it was well worth the time it took. Just coming out here with a different attitude and coming out for each other and we did that today.”

Washington was pleased with the way his team responded to the meeting but stressed it wasn’t the main reason they won, as they had to apply what they learned.

“More than anything else, I just think we came out tonight and we jumped on [D-backs starter Slade Cecconi] right away and just didn't stop,” Washington said. “It doesn't matter what you say in a meeting because once those guys go between those lines, it's all up to them. But the offense came out early and kept going the whole game. And we played good defense and Soriano took care of the rest.”

But Washington did like the way his team responded to the meeting and loved how engaged they were before the game.

“It was tremendous,” Washington said. “I’ve been in the game 54 years and that was one of the most moving times I’ve had with these guys. The guys stood up like grown men and handled their business. I was very proud of them.”

Leadoff hitter Nolan Schanuel set the tone with a single on the first pitch of the game by Cecconi before Kevin Pillar ripped a one-out RBI double to stay red-hot at the plate. Neto doubled the lead with his blast in the second for his eighth homer of the year.

Willie Calhoun added an RBI single with two outs in the third before Adell provided the big blow with this three-run shot in the fourth. Adell got all of a hanging slider, as it left the bat at 108.1 mph and went a Statcast-projected 434 feet for his 12th homer of the season.

Luis Rengifo tacked on another run with an RBI single as part of a four-run fourth that gave the Angels a seven-run lead. They racked up 12 hits, including four for extra bases, through the first four frames.

Neto plated another run with an RBI in the sixth that was originally ruled a homer to center. Neto has been swinging a hot bat, hitting .289/.329/.526 with eight homers, 12 doubles and 20 RBIs over his last 44 games dating back to April 22.

“I’ve been feeling good at the plate right now, just like a lot of our guys,” Neto said. “We’re just trying to get over the hump and turn this thing around.”

It was more than enough for Soriano, who continued his impressive run and registered what he considered the best outing of his young career. The 25-year-old went a career-high eight-plus innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks, and has posted an impressive 3.48 ERA in 72 1/3 innings in his first season as a starter in the Majors.

Soriano appeared to be cruising toward a shutout before allowing a leadoff homer to Christian Walker in eighth. He came back out for the ninth on 90 pitches but was removed after a leadoff infield single.

“Honestly, it was my best,” Soriano said through interpreter Manny Del Campo. “Everything was working well and I was able to minimize the pitches to each batter. And the run support was very important because we need to support each other as a team and the offense was there for me tonight.”