Sandoval gets 1st 'W' as starter as Halos roll

Left-hander also notches first hit in Angels' rout of D-backs

June 14th, 2021

It was a day of firsts for Angels left-hander , as he picked up both his first career win as a starting pitcher and his first Major League hit as a batter in a 10-3 win over the D-backs on Sunday at Chase Field to complete a three-game sweep.

It snapped a streak of 19 straight starts without a win for Sandoval, which was a club record. Sandoval, who got his first win in relief last year, has been impressive as a starter this season and kept it rolling against Arizona.

Sandoval allowed two runs on four hits and two walks over six-plus innings, with four strikeouts. He now has a 2.77 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 26 innings over five starts this season, making a strong case to remain in the rotation going forward. He’s also brought some good luck, bringing out the lineup card before every game during the club’s six-game winning streak.

"It's great,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I've been on this guy's potential since the first time I saw him last year. I think more than anything, he really has a stronger sense of belonging and knowing he can do this. He had been more in survival mode, but I think he's getting beyond that point. He went out there and had great composure and made great pitches, primarily fastball-changeup."

Sandoval was staked to an early two-run lead, keyed by a two-run shot in the first from catcher Max Stassi, who has been red-hot at the plate. Sandoval helped his own cause as part of a four-run second inning, as he faked a bunt and then perfectly bounced a single to center field off starter Jon Duplantier, allowing Taylor Ward to go from first to third. Sandoval eventually scored on a single from Justin Upton.

"We worked on it a lot and it paid off," Sandoval said of his hit. "I already gave the ball to my mom. Hopefully she doesn't lose it. I'm hoping to frame it with the bat, batting gloves and maybe the helmet."

The early six-run lead helped Sandoval settle in on the mound, and he was efficient until walking the first two batters in the seventh, which caused him to get pulled for reliever Steve Cishek. Sandoval threw 94 pitches and his changeup was his best pitch, as he induced 10 swings and misses with it while also locating his fastball well.

"I think I've been throwing the ball well,” Sandoval said. “It's just the consistency of locating the fastball is huge for me. And the changeup is a big swing-and-miss pitch for me. It's about executing pitches, and I've done a pretty good job of that so far."

The first run he allowed came on a two-out RBI single to Pavin Smith in the fourth. But he escaped the jam with two runners on by getting Josh Reddick to ground out to shortstop. The second was an inherited run coming to score on a single from David Peralta off Cishek in the seventh. Sandoval was visibly frustrated after coming out of the game, but he said it was just his emotions getting the best of him after two free passes.

"I wasn't tired, I was just frustrated,” Sandoval said. “I don't like giving up the ball in any situation. I went out there and walked the first two batters, which was frustrating. But on to the next one."

His start was part of an encouraging trend for the Angels, who have seen their starting pitchers step up in the absence of superstar Mike Trout. The Halos have now won 14 of 19 games to move a game over .500 for the first time since May 1.

"It really comes down to the starting pitching,” Maddon said. “Sandy was really good. I thought we might squeeze another inning out of him right there. But he got a little tired with the two walks. But that's where it begins. Stassi throwing the first punch was outstanding. And we just had good at-bats against their starter. But it starts with the pitching and we caught the ball well again today."