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OC Register: Angels’ bullpen blows lead after Patrick Sandoval throws 6 scoreless innings


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OAKLAND — The Angels’ 5-4 loss to the Oakland A’s on Monday night demonstrated why victories can be such a misleading stat for a starting pitcher.

Patrick Sandoval finished his season with just six wins, hardly a reflection of the 2.91 ERA he produced in 27 starts.

Sandoval left with a lead in eight of his no-decisions. A few of those were games in which Sandoval didn’t finish the five innings he needed for a victory, but the rest were games like Monday.

Sandoval pitched six scoreless innings and handed the bullpen a 4-0 lead.

Relievers Jimmy Herget, José Quijada and Aaron Loup frittered away this lead. Herget allowed two runs in the eighth and Quijada was charged with two in the ninth. Quijada left with the bases loaded, walking two. Loup gave up a two-run single to Seth Brown to tie it.

In the 10th, the Angels failed to knock in their automatic runner. Zack Weiss allowed the A’s to score the winner on Tony Kemp’s ground ball under the glove of first baseman Matt Thaiss.

The loss snapped the Angels’ seven-game winning streak and cost Sandoval a victory on a night when he finished his season with a strong performance.

The six innings brought Sandoval’s total to 148-2/3 innings, nearly doubling last year’s 87 major league innings.

He had a 1.34 WHIP, including 3.6 walks per nine innings. That contributed to his pitch-count leading to more early exits than he or the Angels would like. He has acknowledged the need to cut down the walks and pitch more efficiently.

Sandoval already made a significant change to his game by improving his composure on the mound, which he demonstrated in the third inning.

Sandoval gave up a pair of infield hits. Just little bouncers placed perfectly enough that the infielders had no play. That loaded the bases with one out.

Rather than lamenting his horrible luck and allowing the inning to spiral out of control, Sandoval got out of the inning with no runs. He got a ground ball to third baseman Anthony Rendon, who threw home for a force, and then he struck out Shea Langeliers.

“I think each day out he’s showing me more and more maturity and more and more leadership,” Manager Phil Nevin said before the game. “Things he’s done on the mound obviously have been great this year. There’s a lot of things that everybody needs to improve on, but his demeanor and the way he’s been able to rebound from moments that don’t go his way out there, whether it’s a bloop hit or an umpire call or a beach ball on the field, he seemed to be able to reel himself back in and not let it affect the next pitch as much as it has before.”

Sandoval did not allow another hit after the third, handing the bullpen a 4-0 lead that his teammates had built in the fourth and fifth innings.

Taylor Ward doubled in the fourth, starting a rally that ended when Jo Adell squeaked a bases-loaded single through the left side of the infield to drive in two runs.

In the fifth, Livan Soto led off with his second hit of the game and he scored on Shohei Ohtani’s double into right-center. The hit extended Ohtani’s hitting streak to 18 games.

Ward then drove in Ohtani with a double.

Ward is finishing his season on a torrid streak, lifting his season batting average to .285 with 23 home runs and an .845 OPS.

Ward started the season hot, then hurt his shoulder when he crashed into the outfield fence in late May, and he admitted months later that it sapped him of strength that affected his performance at the plate.

More to come on this story.

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