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OC Register: Noah Syndergaard blanks Astros to pick up victory in Angels debut

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ANAHEIM — Noah Syndergaard formally introduced himself to Angels fans, and reintroduced himself to the majors, in impression fashion on Saturday night.

The right-hander pitched 5-1/3 innings in the Angels’ 2-0 victory over the Houston Astros, picking up the team’s first victory of the season and his first since 2019, before he underwent Tommy John surgery.

He was supported by homers from Jared Walsh and Mike Trout and spotless work by the Angels bullpen.

Syndergaard was one of baseball’s most electric starters before surgery, and the Angels are hanging their hopes for an improved rotation on him rediscovering that form.

He wasn’t throwing 100 mph or racking up strikeouts, but he was effective in his first real outing in years. He had surgery in March 2020, and his only other major league outing was a two-inning cameo last September with the New York Mets.

On Saturday, Syndergaard allowed two hits and three walks. He struck out just one, instead getting the Astros to hit 11 ground balls, all of them routine.

Syndergaard’s fastballs were mostly 94-96 mph. He also threw 21 changeups among his 76 pitches. All Angels starters have been on a short leash the first time through the rotation because of the shortened spring training.

Manager Joe Maddon pulled Syndergaard after a one-out walk in the sixth inning, handing a 1-0 lead to his bullpen.

The Angels held the narrow margin because Justin Verlander was almost as good in his return from Tommy John surgery. Verlander had not pitched since he was hurt one start into the 2020 season.

Walsh put the Angels on the board with a 412-foot homer in the second inning, the first homer of the young season for the team.

After that, the Angels had couldn’t deliver a knockout punch to Verlander. In the fourth, Jose Rojas struck out to leave two runners. In the fifth, the Angels had runners at second and third with one out for the top of the order.

Shohei Ohtani took a 3-and-2 pitch that nipped the inside corner, and then Trout hit a fly ball to center field.

With the Angels offense unable to mount the kind of attack they expected would be routine, the pressure was on the Angels bullpen to hold the one-run lead.

Aaron Loup took over for Syndergaard in the sixth and retired both hitters he faced. He picked up the first out of the seventh, but he would have had two if not for a throwing error by third baseman Anthony Rendon.

Ryan Tepera took care of the last two outs of the seventh and the first two of the eighth.

Trout blasted a 445-foot homer in the bottom of the eighth, providing an extra run of cushion for closer Raisel Iglesias before he worked the ninth.

More to come on this story.

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