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OC Register: Angels burned by home runs in loss to Braves


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ATLANTA — As the Angels completed a week of trades to shape themselves into a playoff team, on Tuesday night they ran into a team that expects much more than simply getting to October.

The Angels lost to the Atlanta Braves, 5-1, as they were unable to hit ace Spencer Strider and unable to slow down the deepest lineup in the majors.

Strider held the Angels to one run in 6⅔ innings and the Braves hammered three homers, including two from No. 9 hitter Michael Harris II and one from No. 8 hitter Orlando Arcia.

The Angels, who played one of their better games to win on Monday night, still have a chance to take what would be an impressive series victory if they can win the rubber game on Wednesday. Newly acquired Lucas Giolito will start against Braves right-hander Yonny Chirinos.

The Angels beefed up their lineup just before this series with a trade for Randal Grichuk and C.J. Cron and the return of Zach Neto. Grichuk and Neto both contributed to the Angels’ only run against Strider.

Mickey Moniak and Grichuk singled in the fifth and then Neto beat out the back end of a potential double play to push home a run.

The Angels went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position, wasting opportunities with two on in the first and seventh innings.

Meanwhile, Angels starter Patrick Sandoval got the start on four days’ rest, something that is standard for pitchers around baseball but not with the Angels. When Shohei Ohtani has been in the Angels’ rotation, they have had their starters pitch almost exclusively with five or more days of rest.

This opportunity arose for Sandoval because of the heightened importance of the games in the second half and because the Angels would have had a hole in their rotation as a result of last Wednesday’s rainout.

Manager Phil Nevin said before the game that they would have Giolito pitch on four days’ rest – because he had been accustomed to doing it with the Chicago White Sox – but the other starters would likely remain on their normal schedules.

Sandoval showed no ill effects from having one less day of rest. He gave up two runs in five innings, on 90 pitches. He walked four. It was an outing very much like his others.

The run he gave up in the first would have been avoided if Moniak hadn’t taken a bad route to a ball. Sandoval gave up a solo homer to Harris in the fifth inning.

One difference was that the velocity of his pitches was up across the board, with his four-seam fastball averaging 94.2 mph instead of 92.5 mph.

Jacob Webb followed Sandoval to the mound and worked a scoreless sixth, but he gave up three runs on two homers in the seventh, putting the Angels in a four-run hole.

More to come on this story.

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