The Los Angeles Angels are hoping to have right fielder Taylor Ward back in the starting lineup Sunday afternoon when they host the Oakland Athletics in the final game of a three-game series in Anaheim, Calif.
Ward is listed as day-to-day but was not in the lineup Saturday in the Angels’ 5-3 win over the A’s, the result of his run-in with the right field wall on Friday.
Ward made a running catch of a long fly ball by Oakland’s Tony Kemp, slamming face-first into the wall in the ninth inning. He had to leave the game and was cleared after undergoing concussion protocol. However, he was diagnosed with a neck stinger and experienced numbness in his arm.
The Angels felt comfortable enough in Ward’s potential to release veteran outfielder Justin Upton at the end of spring training, and Ward has more than lived up to expectations.
He has a higher batting average (.370), on-base percentage (.481) and slugging percentage (.713) than Mike Trout (.310/.422/.667), and ranks second on the team to Trout in home runs (nine) and extra-base hits (17).
Ward said that a big part of his success is his confidence, along with not being intimidated by the idea of being in the major leagues as opposed to the minors.
“I really try to think about how this game is the exact same as down there,” Ward said. “(Pitchers) down there miss (on location of pitches), and guys up here miss also. The lights are just brighter and there are more distractions here. It’s great, but you have to turn the page and get back into the zone.”
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (2-1, 1.91 ERA) will take the mound for Los Angeles, his seventh start of the season. He faced the A’s his last time out, getting a victory after allowing just one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Sandoval is 1-3 with a 1.78 ERA in five career starts vs. Oakland.
Cole Irvin (2-1, 2.93 ERA) will make his sixth start of the season for the A’s but first since April 30 because of shoulder tendinitis. Before the injury, the left-hander was pitching well, allowing just two runs in 16 innings over his previous three starts.
A big part of Irvin’s success this season before the injury was improving in high-leverage situations — last year, opposing hitters batted .324 against him with runners in scoring position, the worst in the majors. So far this season, opposing hitters are batting .227 (5 for 22) with runners in scoring position against him.
“I think experience has a lot to do with that,” Irvin said. “Being in it a few times and understanding it’s OK to let one run score on a ground ball that gets a double play. Just trying to simplify it and not stress myself out a little too much. I think I learned a lot last year in situations of pitching with guys on base.”
Irvin is 2-2 with a 2.90 ERA in five career starts against the Angels.
–Field Level Media