The Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants will continue their home-and-home series, heading north to the Bay Area for two games beginning Wednesday.
While both teams are struggling to remain in the playoff picture following a two-game split in Anaheim, the Angels have two players who will play Wednesday with individual numbers in mind.
First baseman/designated hitter Albert Pujols did not get on the field Tuesday despite collecting two hits on Monday, so it’s likely he’ll be in the lineup Wednesday. He has been sitting on 659 career home runs since his last one on Aug. 4, needing one more to tie former Giant Willie Mays with 660 for fifth on the all-time list.
Pujols also needs one more RBI to tie Alex Rodriguez (2,086) for third on the all-time list. Only Babe Ruth (2,297) and Hank Aaron (2,214) had more.
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval will start on the mound for Los Angeles, looking for the first win of his major league career. He has made 12 starts (and one relief appearance) going back to last season. It is the longest stretch without a victory for a starting pitcher to begin a career in Angels history.
“I try not to think about it that much,” said Sandoval, who is 0-2 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts this season. “I just want to get out there and give our team the best chance to win. That’s my goal out there every time I go out.”
It’s not that Sandoval hasn’t pitched well enough to win. He got the loss on Aug. 8 against the Texas Rangers despite allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings. The Angels fell 2-0.
Last time out, he was matched up against lefty Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ offense, which leads the majors in scoring. He gave up five runs (four earned) but managed to pitch into the seventh inning for the first time in the big leagues.
“I love his stuff,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I think, as he does this more, he’s going to create a package knowing what he wants to do against righties and lefties. He’s got a nice slider, a nice curve and a really good changeup that plays to both sides. He needs good health and he needs opportunity because he’s really an interesting young pitcher. It’s opportunity and time, and he’s going to be really good.”
With the Angels starting a lefty, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, a left-handed hitter, likely will be on the bench. He has started just two of nine games when the Giants have faced a left-handed starter, and he’s 0-for-10 against lefties this season.
“I may be pressing a little bit too much to maybe show something to be able to get in there against the next lefty that we face,” Crawford said, who went 2-for-5 with a two-run double Tuesday in the Giants’ 8-2 win. “Maybe putting a little too much pressure on, but I think I continue to put good at-bats together and hit the ball hard.”
Mauricio Dubon has been getting starts at shortstop in Crawford’s place. Whether or not it’s a strict “platoon,” Crawford, the Giants’ starting shortstop during their World Series championships in 2012 and 2014, is not happy about it.
“It’s not something I’m used to,” said Crawford, who is hitting .242 with one homer and six RBIs overall. “It’s not something I’m necessarily thrilled about. I’m working as hard as I can to try to get in there every day.”
Johnny Cueto (1-0, 4.62 ERA) will start on the mound for San Francisco on Wednesday, coming off a strong outing against the Oakland A’s in a no-decision last Friday. He gave up two runs on three hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out five.
Cueto has a stellar career record against the Angels, 2-0 with an 0.86 ERA in three starts.
–Field Level Media