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Angels search for offensive answers in Kansas City

Sportsnaut
Jul 25, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts after hitting a double against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals host the Los Angeles Angels again on Tuesday night, two teams going nowhere but still trying to finish the season strong.

Both teams have struggled on offense, as only the Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers have scored fewer runs than the Royals and Angels in the American League.

For the Angels, the lack of offensive production has been especially glaring in July. Including their 7-0 loss to the Royals on Monday, the Angels are averaging just 2.7 runs per game and have scored two runs or fewer in 12 of their 18 games this month.

Injuries have been a major factor. Anthony Rendon is out for the year because of a wrist ailment, Mike Trout is currently sidelined due to a back issue and Taylor Ward — one of the hottest hitters in baseball to start the season — has labored to stay healthy.

“It’s been a struggle offensively and there’s no secret with that,” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “But I’ve said all along offense can be contagious sometimes. You go on runs. We’re not at full strength, but it’s not an excuse.

“We haven’t got much production out of the bottom of the lineup. And it’s turned over to the top where they haven’t been quite what they were earlier. Losing Anthony for an extended period and now Mike, it hurts the entire team. Making adjustments on the fly is very difficult, but I expect it to change once we get into the second half.”

Left-hander Jose Suarez (1-4, 5.60 ERA) will get the ball on Tuesday for Los Angeles, his 10th start (12th appearance) of the season. He is coming off a loss his last time out, when he gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 16.

Suarez will face Kansas City for the first time in his career.

One of the rare bright spots at the plate for the Royals has been Andrew Benintendi, Kansas City’s lone All-Star. After going 3-for-5 with two runs on Monday, he is hitting .322 with 19 extra-base hits and a .791 OPS.

A major reason for his resurgence has been the return of a leg kick during his swing. Benintendi has tinkered with it off and on during his career, and he decided in spring training he’d give it another try.

“It’s always been more comfortable for me, and when spring training came, I thought I could see the ball better, see the spin better,” he said. “I think it’s what keeps me on top of the baseball, to where before I was kind of stepping toward it. It looked like I was going up to the ball instead of down to it. That’s when I realized I might need to go back to the leg kick, and then I just stuck with it.”

Left-hander Angel Zerpa (2-0, 1.29 ERA) will make his second start (third appearance) of the season for Kansas City. In his only other major league start this season, he gave up one run and four hits in five innings, earning a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on July 14.

Zerpa has never faced the Angels.

–Field Level Media