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  1. HOUSTON — By the time the Angels’ 11-2 loss to the Houston Astros on Sunday was over, it had become so lopsided that it was easy to forget how well Jaime Barria had pitched or how much a timely hit or two by the Angels early could have changed the game. Instead, it ended up as an embarrassing loss, the third straight against the Astros and sixth in seven games on this two-city trip through Texas. Barría held the Astros to two runs in 5-1/3 innings, but came out of the game trailing 2-1 because the Angels couldn’t convert their opportunities against left-hander Framber Valdez. Valdez walked two of the game’s first three hitters, but then Justin Upton hit into a double play. In the third, the Angels loaded the bases with no outs, but Shohei Ohtani and Upton both struck out and Albert Pujols hit a tapper in front of the mound. After that, the Angels didn’t even get a runner into scoring position over Valdez’s final three innings. The Angels were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position in Friday’s one-run loss, and they left the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings on Saturday, losing by three. The hitters did little to support Barría on a day that he fared well against Houston’s tough lineup. Barría allowed a double to José Altuve to lead off the game, followed by a walk to Michael Brantley, but he minimized the damage and allowed just one run. In the fourth, right fielder Brian Goodwin helped him out by making a perfect throw from the corner to nail Yuli Gurriel at second on a would-be double. Barría retired six of the final seven hitters he faced before he was pulled at 90 pitches, in the sixth inning. It was the first time since April 16 that Barría had started a game and made it into the sixth inning. Barría has a 2.39 ERA in 26-1/3 innings against the Astros in five career starts. The game was still 2-1 at the seventh-inning stretch, but then Martín Maldonado hit a two-run homer against Ty Buttrey and the Astros blew the game open with seven runs against Taylor Cole in the eighth. Cole has allowed 33 runs this season, and 20 of them have come in three innings over four outings. More to come on this story. Related Articles Luis Rengifo’s power potential encourages Angels Angels fall behind early and miss opportunities to come back, losing to Astros Angels’ catcher Max Stassi says his hitting has been ‘a disaster,’ so he’s ready to make changes Angels waste Kole Calhoun’s 4-hit night in loss to Astros Astros ace Gerrit Cole remains a big fan of Angels’ Shohei Ohtani View the full article
  2. HOUSTON — Standing in a hallway in the Angels’ clubhouse, Shawn Wooten was in the middle of a discussion about Luís Rengifo’s power when the Angels rookie infielder walked past. The Angels assistant hitting coach reached out and grabbed Rengifo’s arm. “Look at these things,” Wooten said, with his hand around Rengifo’s bicep. “He looks like he could fill out. He’s 22. Think about him in two years. He’s going to be bigger and stronger, more mature.” Wooten then made a prediction about how Rengifo’s power could manifest in terms of homers: “I think there’s 25 in there.” Rengifo has just six homers through the first 309 at-bats of his debut season in the big leagues. But Wooten and others around the organization have lofty hopes for him because of what he did on Saturday night. Rengifo blasted a homer up to the train tracks beyond the left field fence at Minute Maid Park, a blast measured at 425 feet. A few days earlier, he had a belted a 427-foot homer against the Texas Rangers. “The power’s starting to shine through,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’ve said all along, for his stature, he’s got a lot of power. It’s just a matter of consistent contact. He hit the home run in Texas, he hit the home run tonight. Some of the home runs he hits are moon shots. He has a tremendous amount of power, it’s just a matter of consistency.” Ausmus then pointed out that Rengifo began last season in Class-A. He rocked through three levels of the system in 2018, the first season after the Angels got him in trade for C.J. Cron just before spring training. This season he made his big league debut April 25, and since then he’s been on a rollercoaster of performance. Over the past 14 games, he’s been on an upswing, with a .278 average and a .361 on-base percentage. “I go up and down, up and down,” said Rengifo, who is hitting .243 with a .329 on-base percentage and .701 OPS. “But right now I’m feeling good. I’ve learned a lot this year.” The biggest issue currently in Rengifo’s offensive game are strikeouts. He has struck out 75 times in 354 plate appearances. Over the seven games prior to Sunday, though, he’d struck out just once in 31 plate appearances. He had only nine strikeouts in his previous 70 plate appearances. “There’s been a lot of conversation about controlling the strike zone and getting a good pitch, controlling his emotions,” Wooten said. “I think this is his second time going through and seeing (pitchers). It helps that he knows what they’re trying to do.” If Rengifo can continue to improve, Wooten has lofty expectations for him. “I’m not going to put him next to their second baseman,” Wooten said, referring to the Astros’ José Altuve, “but he can be that type of player. He has some power. He can run. He can bunt. He can do some things. … With his growth, he has the potential to be a superstar. The tools are off the charts. But it’s just obviously a matter of putting it all together, like a lot of young kids.” Related Articles Angels fall behind early and miss opportunities to come back, losing to Astros Angels’ catcher Max Stassi says his hitting has been ‘a disaster,’ so he’s ready to make changes Angels waste Kole Calhoun’s 4-hit night in loss to Astros Astros ace Gerrit Cole remains a big fan of Angels’ Shohei Ohtani Angels’ top prospect Jo Adell tabbed for Arizona Fall League ALSO Tommy La Stella has begun taking some ground balls and hitting off a tee, Ausmus said. La Stella is out with a fractured leg, expected to return sometime in the next two weeks. UP NEXT Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney, 3-3, 4.31) vs. Rangers (LHP Mike Minor, 11-7, 3.17), Tuesday, 7:07 p.m., Fox Sports West View the full article
  3. HOUSTON — Matt Thaiss yanked a ground ball down the first base line and it slipped under the glove of first baseman Yuli Gurriel. Just when Thaiss may have figured he and the Angels had caught a break to help them get back in the game, second baseman José Altuve appeared. He gloved the ball along the line in shallow right field and fired it right back to Gurriel, retiring Thaiss. That’s how the night went for the Angels in their 5-2 loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday, as too many of their hopeful moments ended with disappointment. After falling behind by five runs before they even had their first baserunner, the Angels loaded the bases in the fifth and sixth, leaving them loaded both times. All told, the Angels had 14 baserunners over the final six innings, but they could not get enough of them home to avoid their fifth loss in the six games of this trip through Texas. Their first run came on Luís Rengifo’s 425-foot homer to the train tracks at Minute Maid Park, his sixth homer of the season. The next three hitters all reached to load the bases for Mike Trout, representing the tying run with two outs. Trout hit a line drive to center field, where George Springer caught it drifting back toward the warning track. In the sixth, the Angels loaded the bases again, but this time Thaiss stranded them with a strikeout. Trout drove in a run with a single in the seventh, but the Angels could not cut into any more of the deficit that Dillon Peters left them. Peters gave up five runs in 4-2/3 innings, with all of the damage coming on two swings. In the first inning, Altuve hit a ball that dropped just beyond the dive of Trout, going to the wall for a triple. Peters then threw a fastball over the inner half of the plate to Michael Brantley, who lifted it just over the right field fence for a two-run homer.Related Articles Angels’ catcher Max Stassi says his hitting has been ‘a disaster,’ so he’s ready to make changes Angels waste Kole Calhoun’s 4-hit night in loss to Astros Astros ace Gerrit Cole remains a big fan of Angels’ Shohei Ohtani Angels’ top prospect Jo Adell tabbed for Arizona Fall League Introducing the ‘Angels in the Inbox’ newsletter Altuve led off the third with a double and then Brantley was hit by a pitch. Alex Bregman followed by spinning on another inside fastball, lining it over the short left-field fence for a three-run blast. Peters retired the six hitters and did not give up another hit until the Yordan Alvarez double that knocked him out of the game in the fifth. More to come on this story. View the full article
  4. HOUSTON — Max Stassi could not hide from the disappointing offensive numbers he’s produced in his first three weeks with the Angels, and he’s ready to do something about it. “Offensively, it’s been a disaster for me,” Stassi said. “This isn’t who I am as a player and not who I visualize myself being. I am ready to make some serious adjustments to be the player I want to be. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m ready to take that next step and hopefully I’ll elevate my game.” Stassi, 28, was acquired in a trade with the Houston Astros at the July 31 deadline. The Angels got him mostly for his defense, and in that respect they say they are satisfied. However, he has just three singles in his first 35 at-bats with the Angels, with 13 strikeouts. Albeit in a small sample, Stassi has not even approached the .218 average and .652 OPS he produced in 390 at-bats with the Astros. This week, Stassi said he and the Angels hitting coaches have planned a retooling of his offensive game. “Swing, approach, everything honestly,” Stassi said. Stassi said he’s still early in the process and couldn’t even pinpoint exactly what needs to change, but he has acknowledged the need to do something different. “There are times you need to get uncomfortable in the box,” Stassi said. “Sometimes being comfortable isn’t a good thing. It’s time to make some changes and see what happens. I have faith it will pay off over time, and it’s not going to be easy, but it’s one of those things I have to do. “I have to break down some barriers and try to get some things right. There’s not a magic pill that I can take and everything is going to be fine. It will be a lot of hard work, ups and downs, and we’ll go from there.” While the Angels wait for Stassi to produce more at the plate, they believe his most important role is working with the pitchers. To that end, Manager Brad Ausmus is satisfied. “He’s done a nice job,” Ausmus said. “He works well with the pitchers. He’s very prepared. He cares. He understands that his impact in the catcher’s box is greater than his impact in the batter’s box, which I think applies to the vast majority of catchers unless they are an extreme offensive catcher. The whole receiving metric is really good with him. I would say he’s been a huge plus defensively.” OHTANI UPDATE Shohei Ohtani threw a 35-pitch bullpen session, continuing to throw his fastball, slider and curve at increased intensity. He has not yet thrown his splitter. “He looked good,” Ausmus said. “He threw his curveball and slider. He looked good. He looked free and easy.” Ohtani also was greeted by an addition to the Minute Maid Park visitors clubhouse on Saturday. Noted baseball artist Opie Otterstad just finished a new painting showing Ohtani as a hitter and a pitcher. Otterstad has been commissioned by teams and players all over the majors to do paintings, and they hang all around the ballparks. “It’s great,” Ohtani said of the painting. ALSO The Angels activated Kevan Smith, who had been on the injured list with back spasms. Anthony Bemboom was optioned to make room… Keynan Middleton “looked good” and was throwing 94-96 mph during his rehab outing on Friday night, Ausmus said. Middleton, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to pitch again on Sunday, and then the Angels will have a decision on activating him, Ausmus said… Related Articles Angels waste Kole Calhoun’s 4-hit night in loss to Astros Astros ace Gerrit Cole remains a big fan of Angels’ Shohei Ohtani Angels’ top prospect Jo Adell tabbed for Arizona Fall League Introducing the ‘Angels in the Inbox’ newsletter Numbers dictate Angels manager Brad Ausmus has a quick hook on his starters Justin Anderson threw for the first time since going on the injured list with a right upper trap strain on Aug. 12… Andrelton Simmons recorded a video message to the Curaçao Little League team, which advanced to play for the Little League World Series title on Sunday. Curaçao beat Japan to reach the final, a game that was the subject of discussion between Simmons and Ohtani. UP NEXT Angels (RHP Jaime Barría, 4-6, 6.35) at Astros (LHP Framber Valdez, 3-6, 5.58), 11:10 a.m., Fox Sports West View the full article
  5. The Angels’ Kole Calhoun, right, celebrates with third base coach Mike Gallego after hitting a home run during the eighth inning of Friday’s game against the Astros in Houston. Calhoun finished 4 for 4 with a double and the home run and two runs scored in a 5-4 loss. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jose Suarez throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Sound The gallery will resume inseconds Houston Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols hits an RBI single against the Houston Astros during the second inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Houston Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) HOUSTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 23: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels hits into a double play against the Houston Astros in the third inning at Minute Maid Park on August 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Teams are wearing special color schemed uniforms with players choosing nicknames to display for Players’ Weekend. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Houston Astros shortstop Alex Bregman throws to first after fielding a single by Los Angeles Angels’ David Fletcher during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jose Suarez throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) HOUSTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 23: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros singles in a run in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park on August 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Teams are wearing special color schemed uniforms with players choosing nicknames to display for Players’ Weekend. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve, right, a RBI single as Los Angeles Angels catcher Anthony Bemboom reaches for the pitch during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) HOUSTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 23: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels exchanges words with first base umpire during a game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Teams are wearing special color schemed uniforms with players choosing nicknames to display for Players’ Weekend. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Houston Astros’ Abraham Toro hits a single as Los Angeles Angels catcher Anthony Bemboom reaches for the pitch during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. Toro’s single was his first major league hit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) HOUSTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 23: Jake Marisnick #6 of the Houston Astros singles in a run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park on August 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Teams are wearing special color schemed uniforms with players choosing nicknames to display for Players’ Weekend. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) HOUSTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 23: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels field a single by Jake Marisnick #6 of the Houston Astros in the fourth inning at Minute Maid Park on August 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Teams are wearing special color schemed uniforms with players choosing nicknames to display for Players’ Weekend. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Houston Astros’ Yuli Gurriel celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons, left, handles the throw from catcher Anthony Bemboom before tagging out Houston Astros’ Jake Marisnick (6) as he tries to steal second base during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) The Angels’ David Fletcher tags out the Astros’ Abraham Toro during the sixth inning at Minute Maid Park on August 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Teams are wearing special color schemed uniforms with players choosing nicknames to display for Players’ Weekend. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons makes a leaping throw to first base for an out after fielding a ground ball hit by the Astros’ George Springer during the seventh inning of Friday’s game in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) The Angels’ Kole Calhoun watches his home run against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Show Caption of Expand HOUSTON — Brad Ausmus says he tries to be “proactive” with his pitching changes, taking a pitcher out before it’s too late. As much as the numbers might support such decisions, Ausmus was nonetheless burned by one in the Angels’ 5-4 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday night. Ausmus pulled José Suarez in the fifth inning of a tie game after a two-out double, only to see reliever Noé Ramírez immediately allow a Yuli Gurriel two-run homer that put the Astros on top for good. It cost the Angels on a night when they wasted Kole Calhoun’s four-hit performance, thanks in part to a 1-for-12 performance with runners in scoring position. The Angels, who had taken a 2-0 lead against Zack Greinke in the second, were playing from behind after the pivotal sequence in the fifth. Suarez, who last week was sent down to correct the issues that led to his 6.75 ERA, was back on the mound because of Griffin Canning’s injury. He started off strong, retiring six of seven hitters in the first two innings. Then the Astros began to chip away at him, with a walk and three singles, leading to a run in the third. In the fourth, they scored another run on three more hits. In the fifth, Suarez gave up a two-out double to Alex Bregman. In a 2-2 game, and going through the order for the third time, Ausmus then pulled Suarez. Suarez came into the game allowing a .419 average against the 33 hitters who had seen him the third time in a game. Suarez was also at 92 pitches, which was the most he’d thrown in the big leagues. Ausmus had Ramírez, who had retired all six batters he faced in his previous outing to lower his ERA to 3.25. On the other side of the ledger, Suarez had not given up much hard contact. Only one of the hits had an exit velocity of more than 95 mph. Also, the Angels are out of the race, so this could have been viewed as a developmental moment, to allow Suarez a chance to learn how to get deeper into a game. Ausmus opted to go to Ramírez, and a few moments later it backfired. Ramírez gave up a two-run homer to Gurriel, who lofted a fly ball just over the fence in right, making it 4-2. Related Articles Astros ace Gerrit Cole remains a big fan of Angels’ Shohei Ohtani Angels’ top prospect Jo Adell tabbed for Arizona Fall League Introducing the ‘Angels in the Inbox’ newsletter Numbers dictate Angels manager Brad Ausmus has a quick hook on his starters Angels’ Griffin Canning shut down, but MRI shows only inflammation While the homer was a key moment in the game, the Angels also had a few costly failures to produce with runners in scoring position. Calhoun and Matt Thaiss led off the fourth and fifth, respectively, with doubles, but the Angels couldn’t drive in either of them. In the sixth they had two on and no outs, but scored just one run, to pull within 4-3. Andrelton Simmons grounded into a double play to end that inning. In the seventh, Mike Trout came up with runners at the corners and one out, and he popped out. Shohei Ohtani then struck out. After the Astros added an insurance run, Calhoun blasted his 28th homer to pull the Angels back within 5-4. More to come on this story. View the full article
  6. HOUSTON — While Shohei Ohtani has been limited to hitting this year, at least one of his opponents has not forgotten about what he was as a two-way player and could still become when he’s pitching again next year. “It’s kind of hard for me to understand,” Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole said Friday. “I can’t even really understand. The physical demand is incomprehensible. I couldn’t imagine doing it. Certainly, he has the ability to do both. My gosh, why not give it a shot. You’ve been given a gift. Go for it. It’s crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Ohtani came into this weekend’s series against the Astros hitting .306 with 16 homers and an .892 OPS. He is nearly 11 months into his rehab from Tommy John surgery, so he’s now throwing breaking balls in his bullpen sessions. General Manager Billy Eppler said Ohtani will progress until he’s facing hitters for about 60 pitches in a simulated game setting, and then he’ll stop throwing for the winter. Then, the Angels will once again face the issue of figuring out how to get the most value out of his talents. Cole has a suggestion. “I’d like to see him hit and pitch a little bit,” Cole said. “I’d like to see him be a closer-type guy.” There is no indication the Angels have any intention of doing that, because they need starting pitching more and it would also be complicated to have him warm up to pitch in relief while he’s in the game as a hitter. While Cole conceded those factors would make it tough, he said he simply wants to see Ohtani maximize his talent without getting hurt again. Related Articles Introducing the ‘Angels in the Inbox’ newsletter Numbers dictate Angels manager Brad Ausmus has a quick hook on his starters Angels’ Griffin Canning shut down, but MRI shows only inflammation Angels blow lead again, lose on another walk-off in Texas Angels to place Griffin Canning on IL again with elbow inflammation “This guy is as good as Mike (Trout), almost, at the dish,” Cole said. “I’ve never seen a physical specimen like that. This guy is a legit 40 (home runs) and 120 (RBIs) guy if he just hits. Legit. Why are we going to get greedy (by using him as a starting pitcher)? “I want to see him play for 15 years, 20 years. I’ve never seen anything like it. That’s why I don’t want to be greedy. Just let the guy play for 20 years. I just want to watch it. I’m so intrigued.” While the Angels might not follow Cole’s suggestion of how to use Ohtani, they’d certainly love to give Cole the opportunity to watch him up close for years. Cole, a former Orange Lutheran and UCLA star, is a free agent this winter, and will certainly be one of the Angels’ offseason targets. View the full article
  7. HOUSTON — Whether or not Jo Adell gets a shot to play in the majors in September, he’s still going to experience a new level. Adell was selected to play in the Arizona Fall League, which will allow the Angels’ top prospect to hit against many other top pitching prospects in the game’s premier showcase of minor league talent. Adell, who is considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball, will likely be the headline prospect for the entire league. The AFL announced via Twitter that Adell would be in the league, but the rest of the league’s participants have not been released yet. Adell will play for the Mesa Solar Sox, whose season starts Sept. 18 and runs through early November. Adell, 20, has hit .285 with 10 home runs and an .842 OPS this season, playing at Class-A, Double-A and Triple-A. Since moving to Triple-A, he has hit .241 in 18 games. His first two homers at Triple-A were both erased when the game was called because of rain before it became official on Wednesday. SIMMONS RETURNS Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was activated from the injured list after being out with a sprained ankle and bone bruise for about three weeks. Simmons faced live pitching in a simulated game setting, but he did not play any minor league games in his rehab. Simmons was out earlier this season with a sprained ankle, and he returned quicker than expected. He said on Friday that he doesn’t believe he came back too early the first time. “I wouldn’t do it any different,” Simmons said. “It’s unfortunate that I got hurt again, but it is what it is. Things happen.” Related Articles Astros ace Gerrit Cole remains a big fan of Angels’ Shohei Ohtani Introducing the ‘Angels in the Inbox’ newsletter Numbers dictate Angels manager Brad Ausmus has a quick hook on his starters Angels’ Griffin Canning shut down, but MRI shows only inflammation Angels blow lead again, lose on another walk-off in Texas Simmons returned just in time to wear a Players’ Weekend jersey with his nickname, Simba. In past years he had been advised that there might be some copyright issues with the Lion King, so he used “Simon” instead. This year, Simmons said “they gave me the OK, so I’m going with it.” ALSO Relief pitcher Keynan Middleton, whose rehab outing on Wednesday night was also rained out, was scheduled to pitch on Friday and Sunday, Ausmus said. Middleton is almost finished with his rehab from Tommy John surgery. … Catcher Kevan Smith, who is out with back spasms, worked out on the field and could be activated within a day or two, Ausmus said. … The Angels designated Wilfredo Tovar for assignment to create a spot for Simmons on the 25-man roster. UP NEXT Angels (LHP Dillon Peters, 3-1, 3.92 ERA) at Astros (RHP Wade Miley, 12-4, 3.18), Saturday, 4:10 p.m., Fox Sports West, 830 AM View the full article
  8. Are you an Angels fan? Are you as committed to Anaheim as Mike Trout, if not as well paid? Welcome to the ‘Angels in the Inbox’ newsletter, featuring the coverage of beat writer Jeff Fletcher and the Orange County Register’s sports and photo staff. Fletcher has been covering the Angels beat since 2013, is in the clubhouse before and after every game, and delivers analysis and the stories you can only get from the Register. By signing up for the newsletter, you’ll get the latest stories delivered every morning, and be the first to be alerted to breaking news and the biggest stories. To receive the Angels in the Inbox newsletter, sign up here. Related Articles Numbers dictate Angels manager Brad Ausmus has a quick hook on his starters Angels’ Griffin Canning shut down, but MRI shows only inflammation Angels blow lead again, lose on another walk-off in Texas Angels to place Griffin Canning on IL again with elbow inflammation Angels’ comeback comes up short in nightcap loss to Rangers View the full article
  9. HOUSTON — When Brad Ausmus walks to the mound to remove a starting pitcher who is just barely showing signs of trouble, he knows what many observers are thinking about the quick hooks that have become common these days. “Traditionalists hate it,” the Angels manager said. “I came from baseball being played the traditional way, but I can’t dispute the facts.” Numbers show that pitchers become less effective when facing a lineup for the third time. That means that a starting pitcher has 18 batters to face before the managerial hook looms, and 18 batters rarely gets a pitcher through even five innings. In a time when all managers have short leashes on their starters, Ausmus has pulled his starters quicker than any of them. Angels pitchers have faced 462 hitters the third time through the lineup, the fewest in the majors. On average, Angels pitchers – starters and primary pitchers pitching after openers – are facing just 3.5 hitters per game the third time through the lineup. In that third pass through the lineup, Angels pitchers have allowed opponents to hit .324 with a .974 OPS, both the second-worst in baseball. Those numbers are not what anyone wants to see, either in the quantity or quality. “Absolutely, I’d prefer to have guys who can go (deep in the game),” Ausmus said. “You don’t worry so much about times through the order. You worry about pitch count.” Ausmus said the pitchers have to establish themselves to earn the right to be trusted the third time through the lineup, and until they do, the hook will come quickly. Griffin Canning, the Angels starter who has faced the most hitters in the third time through the lineup, said it is somewhat frustrating, but he understands. “I think it’s gone that way for a reason,” said Canning, who on Thursday was shut down for the rest of the season with elbow inflammation. “I haven’t looked into it too much, but obviously some numbers are showing that.” The idea that pitchers became less effective the third time through the lineup took hold around 2014, with the publication of “The Book: Playing the percentages in baseball,” by Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin. Compiling years of data, they showed a clear pattern that pitchers consistently became less effective with each successive trip through the order. Bringing the numbers up to date, from 2016 to 2019, pitchers have held hitters to a .246 average the first time through the order. That jumps to .260 the second time and .270 the third time. The issue is not fatigue, but familiarity. The more often a major league hitter sees a pitcher, the better he’s going to be able to hit him. Major league teams began acting on that data soon after. From 2000 to 2014, the number of times a pitcher faced a hitter for the third time in a game remained fairly steady, but it declined by 9.5 percent in 2015. It has dropped every year since. Overall, pitchers faced 23 percent fewer hitters the third time through order in 2018 than they did in 2014. Perhaps the bottom is near, though. Since last season there’s been just a 2 percent decline in pitchers facing hitters a third time. Theoretically, at some point, the quick hooks on starters become counterproductive because there aren’t enough quality relievers to pick up those innings. Ausmus concedes that it’s made managing a pitching staff more difficult because he’s using more relievers, while also trying to manage their workloads. It was different when he managed the Detroit Tigers from 2014-17. Over that span, his pitchers faced the sixth most hitters in the majors the third time through the order. “When I was managing the Tigers, I was more reacting to what was happening on the field, as opposed to trying to be proactive,” Ausmus said. “A lot of times if you’re reacting, it’s too late. That’s probably relatively new to baseball. For 100 years you were always reactive as opposed to proactive.” Of course, there was also a significant difference in the rotations Ausmus had in Detroit compared to what he has with the Angels. He had veteran pitchers such as Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and David Price during his Tigers years. “If you have an elite starter,” Ausmus said, “it’s a different story.” The Angels’ current rotation has only one pitcher – Andrew Heaney – who has been through a full season as a starter. So how does a young pitcher ever learn to handle a lineup the third time through if he doesn’t get the chance? “There are going to be times when there is enough separation in the score where the guy continues to go through, where I’d allow him to continue pitching because you feel like you have some margin for error,” Ausmus said. In the past week, Canning got through 26 hitters and Heaney lasted 28. Both were allowed to go deeper because they were pitching well and had a lead of at least three runs. It’s also reasonable to expect the leash might soon get longer for some young pitchers now that the Angels have dropped out of playoff contention, allowing the focus to shift toward developing the skill of getting through a lineup. “It definitely is tough facing those guys different times,” Canning said. “They are so good at making adjustments from their first two at-bats. It’s difficult for sure. You don’t want to overthink and try to do too much and then get yourself into trouble, but you need to realize when guys are starting to make adjustments and you maybe you need to. It’s a back and forth.” Related Articles Angels’ Griffin Canning shut down, but MRI shows only inflammation Angels blow lead again, lose on another walk-off in Texas Angels to place Griffin Canning on IL again with elbow inflammation Angels’ comeback comes up short in nightcap loss to Rangers Andrew Heaney, Mike Trout set career highs in Angels’ victory Canning this year has faced 72 hitters the third time, and they have hit a combined .275. That’s worse than the .167 and .264 averages he’s allowed in the first two times, but still within reason. Dillon Peters has held hitters to a .235 average in just 36 plate appearances the third time through, an encouraging sign in a small sample. Other Angels starters have fared much worse. Heaney (.333), José Suarez (.419) and Jaime Barría (.417) have all been hit hard in samples of 26 to 52 plate appearances in the third time through the order. Ausmus has had a short leash on all of them, which he said was the plan all along. The day Ausmus was hired last fall, one of the points he made in his introductory press conference was that he would be limiting pitchers’ exposure to the third time through the lineup. He said he sat down with all the starters early in the season and explained to them how it was going to work, regardless of whether it was the ideal scenario for the pitchers or the manager. “It’s not like I wanted it to go this way,” he said, “but I can’t dispute the facts.” View the full article
  10. HOUSTON — Griffin Canning’s rookie season is over, although the Angels announced that an MRI exam on Thursday showed only inflammation in his elbow. The club announced that he would not pitch the rest of the season, allowing the inflammation to subside. Considering the Angels are out of the race for the postseason, it is no surprise they are taking a cautious approach with Canning, even absent evidence of any structural damage. Canning, the Angels’ top rookie pitcher, will be placed on the injured list for the second time in a month, both times because he felt mild discomfort and inflammation in his elbow after pitching. Canning was out for just under two weeks in early August. He returned and pitched twice, including an outing in which he gave up one run in seven innings on Sunday, before reporting more issues. The Angels have not said whether Canning will pitch again this season, but considering they are out of the playoff race, it would not be a surprise if they simply shut him down as a precaution. Canning, 23, is 5-6 with a 4.58 ERA in 90-1/3 innings in his first season in the big leagues. A product of UCLA and Santa Margarita Catholic High, Canning came into the season as the Angels’ top pitching prospect. Canning’s scheduled start on Friday will be taken by Jose Suarez, who had just been optioned to the minors on Sunday. Suarez could return to the majors within 10 days because he’s replacing an injured player. UP NEXT Angels (LHP Jose Suarez, 2-4, 6.75) at Astros (RHP Zack Greinke, 13-4, 2.84), 5:10 p.m., Fox Sports West View the full article
  11. ARLINGTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 21: Patrick Sandoval #43 of the Los Angeles Angels throws against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 21, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) ARLINGTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 21: Miguel Del Pozo #58 of the Los Angeles Angels throws against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 21, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Sound The gallery will resume inseconds ARLINGTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 21: Mike Minor #23 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Los Angeles Angels in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 21, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) ARLINGTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 21: Brian Goodwin #18 of the Los Angeles Angels at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 21, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) ARLINGTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 21: Brian Goodwin #18 of the Los Angeles Angels doubles against the Texas Rangers in the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 21, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Texas Rangers’ Nick Solak is congratulated by Logan Forsythe after scoring a run in the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels in a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Louis DeLuca) Texas Rangers’ Willie Calhoun watches his home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Louis DeLuca) The Rangers’ Rougned Odor, center, congratulates Willie Calhoun after he hit a home run during the second inning of Wednesday’s game against the Angels in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Louis DeLuca) Los Angeles Angels Justin Upton, who had struck out, questions umpire Tom Hallion (20) during the third inning of the team’s baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019,in Arlington, Texas. Angels manager Brad Ausmus is at left. (AP Photo/Louis DeLuca) Texas Rangers’ Delino DeShields heads back to second base after taking a wide turn on a single by Jeff Mathis, as Los Angeles Angels second baseman Luis Rengifo calls for the ball in the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Louis DeLuca) ARLINGTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 21: Noe Ramirez #24 of the Los Angeles Angels throws against the Texas Rangers in the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 21, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols signals for his hit to be called a home run, but after a review it was ruled a single, in the fifth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Louis DeLuca) ARLINGTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 21: Noe Ramirez #24 of the Los Angeles Angels throws against the Texas Rangers in the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 21, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Texas Rangers first baseman Danny Santana throws to home after trying to tag Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout at first base during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Louis DeLuca) Los Angeles Angels ‘Mike Trout rounds third base as he heads home to score during the sixth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Louis DeLuca) Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout is congratulated in the dugout after scoring a run against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Louis DeLuca) Angels relief pitcher Taylor Cole throws against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 21, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Angels second baseman Luis Rengifo, left, and first baseman Albert Pujols chat during a break in play in Wednesday’s game against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Show Caption of Expand ARLINGTON, Texas — Once again, walks doomed the Angels to another walk-off loss. The Angels blew a three-run lead in their 8-7 loss to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, with a pair of leadoff walks proving to be costly. The Rangers scored two in the seventh, one in the eighth and won it on Hunter Pence’s single in the bottom of the ninth. It was the 10th time the Rangers had a walk-off victory against the Angels in Arlington since 2012. It was the Angels’ third walk-off loss in a grueling four-game series, their final one at Globe Life Park. With a new ballpark with a retractable roof going up across the street, the Angels and Rangers played four games in three days, with temperatures in the upper 90s and a heat index over 100. They blew a six-run lead in Monday’s 11-inning loss, thanks largely to nine walks. On Wednesday night, they had a 7-4 lead in the seventh when things began to go sideways. After relievers Miguel Del Pozo and Noé Ramírez had retired all eight batters they faced, Taylor Cole started the seventh by walking No. 9 hitter Jeff Mathis, despite an 0-and-2 start. Mathis and Elvis Andrus came around to score against Luís García, making it 7-6. García then began the eighth by walking Nick Solak, also after getting ahead 0-and-2. García gave up a single to Logan Forsythe and the Rangers tied with a Shin-Soo Choo two-out RBI single against Hansel Robles. In the ninth, Trevor Cahill gave up a leadoff single to Elvis Andrus. He went to second and third on two wild pitches. Pence then singled through the drawn-in infield. It spoiled a night in which the Angels hitters had overcome a pair of two-run deficits, before finally taking their first lead of the night with three runs in the sixth. Max Stassi, who came into the game with one hit in 31 at-bats with the Angels, lined a single with one out. David Fletcher followed with a double and Mike Trout was intentionally walked to load the bases. Justin Upton then hit a fly ball to Willie Calhoun in medium-depth left field. Stassi broke for home as Calhoun uncorked a throw well up the first base line. When catcher Jeff Mathis threw to first to try to nab Trout, the Rangers left the plate uncovered and Fletcher scored. A Kole Calhoun single then drove in Trout, making it 7-4. The Angels hitters took Patrick Sandoval off the hook after he struggled through his fourth big league outing. Sandoval was charged with four runs in 3-2/3 innings. Sandoval left his pitches over too much of the plate as the Rangers racked up eight hits against him, including a Willie Calhoun homer in the second. More to come on this story. View the full article
  12. ARLINGTON, Texas — Griffin Canning, the Angels’ prized rookie pitcher, is headed to the injured list again, a troubling development that could mean the end of his season. Manager Brad Ausmus said on Wednesday that Canning suffered a recurrence of the elbow inflammation that landed him on the injured list earlier this month. He was sent back to Southern California for further tests. At the moment, Ausmus said the Angels don’t believe that Canning has a significant injury. “Obviously you talk about a young talented pitcher, you are worried, but right now we have no concerns that it’s anything more than inflammation,” Ausmus said. “And mild inflammation at that.” Asked if he expects Canning to pitch again this season, Ausmus said: “I can’t predict that.” Considering that this is the second time in a month that Canning has been shut down with the same issue, and considering the Angels’ place in the standings, it would seem unlikely that they’d take any chances by having him pitch again this season. Canning, 23, has a 4.58 ERA in 90-1/3 innings in his rookie season. Although he had trouble in July, two of his past three starts were outstanding. Sandwiched around the previous trip to the injured list, Canning pitched six scoreless innings on July 30, and on Sunday he gave up one run in seven innings, equaling his longest outing of the year. Shortly after the July 30 start, Canning reported that he was feeling some mild discomfort in his elbow, so the Angels shut him down for 12 days. He returned on Aug. 13 and gave up three runs in four innings, following that with one of his best outings. Canning was scheduled to start on Friday in Houston, so the Angels have TBA now listed for that game. It could be José Suarez, who was just sent down, or Nick Tropeano. Dillon Peters and Jaime Barría will pitch the remaining two games in Houston, with Andrew Heaney getting a couple of extra days off. He is scheduled to start next Tuesday at home against the Rangers, who he faced in a dominant eight-inning performance on Tuesday. “Nothing is wrong with Heaney,” Ausmus said. “I just want to give him the extra day because he did have the previous arm issues (a month out with a shoulder issue in July and August) and he threw 105 pitches, so I want to give him the extra day.” Related Articles Angels’ comeback comes up short in nightcap loss to Rangers Andrew Heaney, Mike Trout set career highs in Angels victory Alexander: Fans respond on how to fix baseball Adjustments help Angels’ Justin Upton reverse slump Angels blow early six-run lead as bullpen falters in loss to Rangers View the full article
  13. Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jaime Barria throws to the Texas Rangers in the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Texas Rangers starting pitcher Brock Burke throws to the Los Angeles Angels in the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. Burke made his major league debut in the game. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Sound The gallery will resume inseconds Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout reaches up to field a fly out by Texas Rangers’ Elvis Andrus in the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani swings at a pitch from Texas Rangers starter Brock Burke as catcher Jose Trevino watches in the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. Ohtani grounded out to shortstop Elvis Andrus in the at-bat. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Texas Rangers third baseman Logan Forsythe fields a ground out by Los Angeles Angels’ Max Stassi in the fifth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Texas Rangers’ Nick Solak, front, runs past Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols after hitting his first major league home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. The shot came off of Angels starter Jaime Barria. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Texas Rangers’ Nick Solak (15) is congratulated by manager Chris Woodward, left, and Elvis Andrus, right, after Solak hit his first major league home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. The shot came off of Angels starter Jaime Barria. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Los Angeles Angels’ David Fletcher follows through on a double off a pitch from Texas Rangers starter Brock Burke in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Miguel Del Pozo throws to the Texas Rangers in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. The appearance was Del Pozo’s major league debut. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Texas Rangers starting pitcher Brock Burke pounds his glove with his fist after getting Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols to fly out to right for the final out in the top of the sixth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. Burke made his major league debut in the game. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani sprints out of the box after hitting an RBI double off Texas Rangers’ Shawn Kelley during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani gestures to the dugout after hitting an RBI double, next to umpire Tom Hallion (20), during the eighth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) The Angels’ Justin Upton is escorted to the dugout by Manager Brad Ausmus after Upton struck out during the eighth inning of the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas. Upton tossed his batting gear along the third base line after striking out. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) A fan, top left, stands at the top of lower bowl seating as the setting sun reflects off a panel on the side of Globe Life Park as the Los Angeles Angels play the Texas Rangers in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Show Caption of Expand ARLINGTON, Texas — Brian Goodwin’s ninth-inning homer simply delayed the Angels’ loss on Tuesday night. After Goodwin’s homer against Texas Rangers closer José Leclerc tied the score in the ninth, the Angels lost 3-2 when Ty Buttrey gave up a run on an Albert Pujols error in the 11th. Buttrey, pitching for the third day in a row, gave up a one-out single to Delino DeShields. An out later, DeShields stole second. Buttrey then walked Logan Forsythe. Nick Solak hit a sharp ground ball to Pujols, who let it get past him and into right field as the winning run scored. The Angels ended up with a doubleheader split, after winning the day game 5-1 behind a dominant performance by Andrew Heaney and Mike Trout’s career-high 42nd homer. The second game was a pitcher’s duel early between Jaime Barría and Rangers left-hander Brock Burke, who was making his major league debut. Barría allowed two runs in five innings, an encouraging outing after he’d allowed 22 runs in 22-1/3 innings in the five games before his most recent demotion to Triple-A. He didn’t allow anything until the fifth, when he gave up a homer to Solak and then an RBI single to Danny Santana. Barría was outdueled by Burke, who shut out the Angels over six innings. Burke, a former third-round pick, threw fastballs averaging 92 mph with 75 of his 99 pitches. The Angels managed just four hits and two walks against him in six innings. After Shohei Ohtani’s leadoff single in the fourth, Justin Upton hit into a double play. In the sixth, the Angels had two on with two out when Albert Pujols hit a fly ball to deep right field. After Burke left with a 2-0 lead, the Angels got one run back in the eighth on an RBI double by Ohtani, his third hit of the game. With one out in the ninth, Goodwin blasted his 12th homer of the season, tying the score. More to come on this story. Related Articles Andrew Heaney, Mike Trout set career highs in Angels victory Alexander: Fans respond on how to fix baseball Adjustments help Angels’ Justin Upton reverse slump Angels blow early six-run lead as bullpen falters in loss to Rangers Angels’ return to Arlington stirs difficult memories of loss of Tyler Skaggs View the full article
  14. ARLINGTON, Texas — Under the sweltering Texas sun and with a taxed bullpen behind him, Andrew Heaney delivered for the Angels. Heaney struck out a career-high 14 and became the first Angels pitcher this season to work eight innings, leading the way to a 5-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday. Mike Trout gave Heaney all the run support he needed with a first-inning two-run homer, his career-high 42nd of the season. Heaney and Trout led the Angels to a victory on a grueling afternoon sandwiched between two night games. The teams played 11 innings on Monday night, with the second game of the split-admission doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday night. The first pitch temperature was 97 degrees, with a heat index over 100 degrees. The game, which was the make-up of the postponement following Tyler Skaggs’ death on July 1, was played before an announced crowd of 17,249, although in the actual attendance was much lower. They saw Trout hit is 10th homer of the season against the Rangers, extending his own franchise record for homers in a single season against one team. Trout came up about a foot short of his 43rd homer in the ninth inning, settling for a triple off the top of the fence. Related Articles Alexander: Fans respond on how to fix baseball Adjustments help Angels’ Justin Upton reverse slump Angels blow early six-run lead as bullpen falters in loss to Rangers Angels’ return to Arlington stirs difficult memories of loss of Tyler Skaggs Rookies Griffin Canning, Matt Thaiss lead Angels to fourth win in five games After Trout’s homer got the Angels a lead, Heaney took over. He gave up a pair of singles in the first, but then he retired 16 in a row before allowing a Willie Calhoun homer in the sixth. Heaney needed 108 pitches to get through eight innings. He’s the first Angels pitcher this season to pitch at least seven innings in back-to-back games. Since returning from the injured list, Heaney has allowed five runs in 18-1/3 innings, with 24 strikeouts and one walk. More to come on this story. View the full article
  15. There seem to be some common threads in the responses to last week’s “Fixing Baseball, Part II” column: I received 20 emailed responses and a couple via Twitter. The majority were from, shall we say, veteran fans. There seemed to be common agreement that games take too long, and that analytics and their spawn (such as shifts, launch angles, homers and strikeouts at the expense of putting the ball in play, and the nightly parade of relief pitchers in the late innings) have made the game less appealing. Oh, and ticket prices are too high and the TV coverage leaves something to be desired. That about cover it? By the way, the idea that older fans seem most willing to care, and to comment, should be a loud wakeup call to MLB executives. It says either (a) the younger generation is perfectly fine with the game as it is played today, or (b) younger fans don’t care enough to weigh in. My suspicion is (b), and if that’s the case nicknames on the backs of uniforms aren’t nearly enough. (Especially when you can’t see them, as will be the case this weekend, but enough of that rant.) Along those lines, the most intriguing suggestion came from reader Mark Heil: “Hire WWE writers. WWE understands that story lines drive interest. Baseball has become too much of a hometown sport. People don’t care the way we used to about other teams … What’s missing? The stories to make us care about the different cities. Matchups. Who is pitching against who? Add drama. Hire people to call up talk radio stations and ask the brainless homers if they saw what happened in Los Angeles last night? Root, Root, Root for the hometown – yes, but be realistic about how your team compares.” My only hesitancy would be that 162 games worth of “Monday Night Raw” would wear everyone out, players and fans alike. That said, this goes back to the sport’s inability to tap into personalities and promote its best players to a wider audience. And maybe the issue isn’t so much how they advertise, but where – specifically, maybe promoting the game to people who aren’t already watching it. Heil suggested slipping players or teams into video games or hosting “a contest on Minecraft about designing the best stadiums or replicating a stadium.” I’d hire him. Anyway, some other ideas: • Heil also suggested a seven-second pitch clock; hitters entitled to one timeout (i.e., stepping out of the box) per at-bat; relievers getting from the bullpen to the mound in no more than 30 seconds to make the next pitch, with no warmups; one baseball per half-inning (rather than a new ball every time one hits the dirt); and an All-Star Week that would also encompass the trade deadline and maybe the draft, too. Time, it seems, is of the essence. • Tom Cryer, maybe with Shohei Ohtani in mind, suggested allowing a player to be listed as both a pitcher and DH, similar to the NCAA rule, or alternatively allowing a DH for any player, not just the pitcher. Further, he favors limiting extra innings to a three-inning limit and then going to a home run derby to break ties. He didn’t specify whether the losing team would get a pity point, as do overtime losers in hockey shootouts. • Tim Mellin of Highland Park suggested an “open” DH rule: Five or six DH slots available, to be used wherever the manager deemed appropriate, similar to the softball rule where the player who is pinch-hit for can return in the game. • Russ Allison is awaiting expansion to 32 teams and a universal DH, and is in favor of radical realignment based on geography: Imagine a West Division with the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Padres, A’s, D-Backs, Mariners and a Portland expansion team, for example. “Yes, maybe one step backwards (won’t feel ‘special’ to have LAA-LAD 4 times a year) but several steps forward,” he wrote. “And an attendance rocket straight up … total upside. LONG overdue.” • Vince Scipioni would bypass both the Commissioner’s office and Players Association: No more corporate ownership of teams; players’ base salary limited to $1 million a year (with advertisers making up the rest), maximum ticket prices at $25 and parking at $12, elimination of all cable/internet broadcast deals in favor of over-the-air telecasts, elimination of replay review, uniform changes only at 25-year intervals … well, you get the point. And so much for baseball’s version of capitalism. • Fred Singer of Huntington Beach wrote: “Have each team bat for three innings at a time. After three outs in the first inning, clear the bases and keep going, rinse and repeat. So much time is wasted getting players on and off the field 18 times a game.” Trust me, with all of the advertising dollars involved, there’s as much chance of that happening as of me becoming President. • Edward Lamoureaux, an Angel fan who is also a professor in the Department of Interactive Media and Department of Communication at Bradley University, has the same gripe I do with MLB.TV’s home market blackout policy, but a particular beef: “I do mind being blacked out of Angel games when they play in Chicago or St. Louis … when the Angels go to Chicago, I don’t want to be forced to go to a TV in my home with cable so I can watch the Sox or Cubs broadcast. Sometimes I’m not at home by a TV, often I’m not in a room with a TV, and I never want to listen to their calls.” Sounds fair. He also suggests altering the umpire rotation so umpires who are weak on balls and strikes don’t work the plate; making arguing balls and strikes no longer an automatic ejection, and not legislating shifts, writing: “Anyone who can’t bunt or hit the other way, and who isn’t hitting over .275, should be punished.” • Lamoureaux and Dirk Wilder of Trabuco Canyon take aim at hitters’ habit of messing with their batting gloves between pitches. “Velcro is responsible for slowing the game down,” Wilder wrote. Related Articles Adjustments help Angels’ Justin Upton reverse slump Report: Lakers to work out Dwight Howard among potential replacements for DeMarcus Cousins USC football training camp: 5 stats to turn around in 2019 UCLA football training camp: 5 stats to turn around in 2019 Overwatch League: Los Angeles Gladiators, Valiant to host two weekends in 2020 Actually, it’s all Nomar Garciaparra’s fault, but I get the point. • Lastly, Greg Johnstone of Ladera Ranch suggested that games could simply end in ties after four or five extra innings, and no gimmicks such as starting each extra inning with a runner at second. “Neither team wins when a game extends to 18 innings, and how many fans are left in the stadium at this point.” Those of us who witnessed Game 3 of last year’s World Series – with Dodger Stadium still nearly full in the 18th – might feel differently. Then again, the Angels exhausted their pitching staff in a 16-inning loss to Baltimore last month and went on to lose 12 of 14 and pretty much spiral out of the wild card race. At this point, they probably wouldn’t argue. jalexander@scng.com @Jim_Alexander on Twitter View the full article