ARLINGTON -- After the Angels dropped two of three games in Minnesota and lost the first two games of this series against the Rangers, they needed a boost heading into the All-Star break.They got it on Sunday behind JC Ramirez, who hurled six innings of shutout ball in the Halos'
ARLINGTON -- After the Angels dropped two of three games in Minnesota and lost the first two games of this series against the Rangers, they needed a boost heading into the All-Star break.
They got it on Sunday behind JC Ramirez, who hurled six innings of shutout ball in the Halos' 3-0 win, and it might've been because he turned to a pitch nearly every pitcher uses -- a four-seam fastball.
Ramirez said he and pitching coach Charles Nagy discussed using it in his final bullpen session before his Sunday start. He had used a two-seamer primarily this year after nearly abandoning it following his 2016 season, but it returned to his repertoire in full force on Sunday, and it led to him giving up just two hits in six innings, albeit with five walks.
Ramirez said the decision to incorporate another fastball was to keep hitters on their toes.
"They've been seeing -- the righties, the ball's been going to them," Ramirez said. "... Now, they start looking for two-seam and I'll throw a four-seam, or they'll be looking for a four-seam and I'll throw a two-seam, so it'll make my day easier."
It aided in producing a bounce-back start for Ramirez, who gave up seven hits and four runs in a loss in Minnesota during his last start, and hadn't held an opponent scoreless since May 27 at Miami.
"Although he's hit some bumps in the road, you've seen him make adjustments, and he's understanding the key factor of making pitches," Scioscia said. "If he strikes a guy out, he strikes a guy out. If they put it in play, they put it in play, and hopefully you're making a play. He's getting better at that."
That fastball, which sat around 95 mph but topped out at 97, allowed him to work his off-speed pitches that kept Rangers hitters off-balance most of the day.
"His breaking pitch, curveball and slider, they were pretty effective today," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Kept everybody off-balance. Any time a guy throws 97-98 mph and he's around the zone, it's going to be a tough matchup for us."
Ramirez walked five batters, but it was still a much-needed outing from the depleted rotation that kept the Angels bullpen from having to work too many innings again, and it led to a win that gets the Halos back within two games of .500 as they finish the first half of the season, still well within striking distance of the AL Wild Card.
"Little erratic today with the walks, but I think he's learning from his experience, and all these guys that are starting to have their innings get a little higher than what they have done, [they] have to keep going," Scioscia said. "Because we're not going to get to our goal unless these guys can continue to go out there and give us opportunities to win like JC did this afternoon."
Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington who covered the Angels on Sunday.