Neto's two-run double propels Angels to first home series win

June 5th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- It took more than two months, but the Angels finally picked up their first home series win of the season on Tuesday.

It's been a struggle for the Angels at Angel Stadium this year, but was the hero and delivered a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning of a 4-2 win over the Padres. It backed lefty Patrick Sandoval, who turned in a second straight quality start, allowing one run on four hits with seven strikeouts over six innings.

Neto acknowledged it was a long time coming to get that elusive series win at home. It was also the first time they've won consecutive games at Angel Stadium this year. But he believes they can build on it going forward.

"It's big time," Neto said. "These fans deserve it. We deserve it. So we're just gonna keep playing the baseball we know how to play. We're just trying to enjoy this one for a little bit until midnight and then flush it to tomorrow. And come in with a new attitude."

The Angels improved to 9-21 at home this year, but they've played better on the road, with a 14-17 mark. They haven't pinpointed why they've had such a tough time at the Big A, but manager Ron Washington has said it's mostly due to a lack of clutch hitting.

Neto took care of that issue with his two-run double off reliever Enyel De Los Santos with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh. De Los Santos tried to get Neto to chase an outside slider, but Neto ripped it over Jurickson Profar's head in left field, bringing home two runs. Another run came on a wild pitch, giving the Angels some insurance.

"After I swung at that first pitch slider, I was like, 'man, I need to put this ball in play and get it to the outfield,'" Neto said. "So I went to my two-strike approach. It was a battle for survival. He hung a slider and I was able to do damage with it."

As Neto returned to the dugout, he bragged to Washington about his double, giving credit to changing his walk-up song to The Notorious B.I.G.'s Big Poppa.

"He made a joke about being Big Poppa," Washington said with a smile. "He likes to talk about himself."

It was another good sign from Neto, who has continually improved during his first full season in the Majors. Neto, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2022 Draft, batted .228/.278/.356 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 29 games in March/April but bounced back to hit .284/.337/.477 with four homers and seven RBIs in 26 games in May. A big reason for his success was cutting his strikeout rate and putting the ball in play more.

The 23-year-old was off to a slow start to open this month, going 1-for-10 over his last three games. But he again showed his surprising power potential with the double that appeared to catch Profar off-guard as it sailed over his head.

"I thought I hit it right at him, and that's why it took me a little time to get out of the box," said Neto, who is hitting .258/.296/.401 with six homers and 21 RBIs in 59 games. "But it's awesome being able to come through like that when we struggle with runners in scoring position, especially later in the game. So it's a good feeling."

The Angels had lost eight of nine after being swept in Seattle over the weekend but responded by playing well against the contending Padres. The pitching was impressive, holding the Padres to just three combined runs through the first two games.

Sandoval, who didn't factor into the decision and has a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts this year, didn't even realize the Angels hadn't won a home series all season but was happy to finally check that box.

"Seriously?" Sandoval said. "It's awesome, but we need to sweep them tomorrow."

Sandoval has also been impressed with Neto's growth and was excited to see him deliver in a critical situation. Neto's defense has always been a strength, but now the offense is coming along.

"His confidence never wavers out there," Sandoval said. "When he's at short, he's making sick plays no matter what the situation. And he came through at the plate tonight, too."