Angels Pounce Early, Defeat Diamondbacks

Angels Diamondbacks

Angels 7, Diamondbacks 3

The Los Angeles Angels got to Arizona Diamondbacks starter Alex Young early, scoring six runs in the first three innings en route to a 7-3 victory Thursday in Anaheim. David Fletcher and Taylor Ward each had three hits for the Angels, while Anthony Rendon and Albert Pujols each had two hits.

Angels starter Griffin Canning faced the minimum in the top of the first despite walking the leadoff man, center fielder Daulton Varsho. Varsho tried to steal second on an 0-2 pitch to the next hitter, second baseman Josh VanMeter, but a perfect throw by catcher Anthony Bemboom got him by the slimmest of margins.

Diamondbacks left-hander Alex Young had a rough start to the game in the bottom of the first. “A lot of middle misses,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “Good hitters will take advantage of that.” Did they ever. The first two hitters – second baseman Fletcher and first baseman Jared Walsh – doubled to left and singled, respectively, putting runners on the corners. That brought up center fielder and reigning AL MVP Mike Trout, whose sacrifice fly to left plated Fletcher with the first run. Rendon, the third baseman, came up next and hit a missile over the fence in dead center for a two-run homer, giving the Angels a 3-0 lead.

Angels Take Big Lead

The top of the second saw the Diamondbacks get a runner into scoring position. Right fielder Kole Calhoun led off with a walk and later advanced to second on a wild pitch, but no one else so much as walked let alone got a hit. The bottom of the inning brought a leadoff double by right fielder Taylor Ward. After Bemboom fanned, shortstop Andrelton Simmons walked. Fletcher, up next, singled to load the bases. Walsh hit a liner to left that brought a highlight-reel diving catch from Peralta. Despite a run scoring on the sacrifice “fly,” the diving catch kept more from coming across. A single from Trout brought Simmons home before Rendon ended the inning with a strikeout. After a loud first two innings, the Angels led, 5-0.

First baseman Pavin Smith led off the third with a single, giving the Diamondbacks their first hit of the game, but that was all they managed in the frame. In the bottom of the inning, Pujols, the first baseman, led off with a single for his first hit of the series. He advanced to second on a heads-up baserunning play. The next hitter – left fielder Justin Upton – hit a deep fly to center. Varsho caught it on the track, but his momentum was carrying him backwards. Pujols – a smart baserunner despite being slow-footed – alertly tagged and took second on a close play. A single by Ward – the right fielder – put runners on the corners for Bemboom, who drove Pujols in on a sacrifice fly to center. That was it for Young, who came out of the game in favor of right-hander Yoan Lopez. He only needed one pitch to retire Simmons on a grounder to third.

Diamondbacks Chip Away, but Too Little Too Late

With the Angels holding a commanding 6-0 lead, the Diamondbacks had a huge hole to climb out of. Riley Smith took over in the fourth and pitched effectively the rest of the way. Offensively, the Diamondbacks started chipping away in the fourth. First baseman Christian Walker singled to open the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch – one of four thrown by Angels pitchers. Three batters later, Peralta hit a two-out single. It would have scored Walker, but Fletcher made a diving play to keep the ball in the infield. That brought up shortstop Nick Ahmed, whose double off Rendon into left scored Walker and advanced Peralta to third. Smith could not keep the inning alive, going down on a called third strike to retire the side.

The Diamondbacks made the score 6-2 in the top of the fifth. With two out, VanMeter hit a popup into shallow center. Simmons camped under the ball and reached up to make the catch. However, the ball popped out and hit the ground. He picked it up and, despite VanMeter already standing on first, hurriedly flung the ball toward first. It went awry, hitting the fence and allowing VanMeter to advance to second. VanMeter scored when Walker followed with a single to right.

Angels Cruise to Finish

The Angels made the score 7-2 in the bottom of the eighth when Ward hit a one-out double. He scored two batters later, when Simmons hit a two-out single. Smith singled to lead off the top of the ninth. Three hitters later and with two out, he advanced to second on a wild pitch. He scored when that hitter – VanMeter – singled to right, making the score 7-3.

The loss prevented the Diamondbacks (19-32) from obtaining their first three-game sweep on the road since June 7-9, 2019 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Canning (1-3) earned the win while Young (2-4) took the loss. The Angels (21-30) will host the Texas Rangers (18-32) on Friday. Jaime Barria (0-0, 3.38 ERA) is scheduled to face Jimmy Herget (0-0, 3.45 ERA) of the Rangers. The Diamondbacks head to Texas to face the Houston Astros. Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.15 ERA) will face former Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77 ERA). The Diamondbacks-Astros game will start at 5:10 Arizona Time (7:10 Central), while the Angels-Rangers game will start at 6:10 Pacific.

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