Home News Patrick Sandoval pitches 7 scoreless innings in win over Royals

Patrick Sandoval pitches 7 scoreless innings in win over Royals

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KANSAS CITY — Through six innings Friday, Patrick Sandoval had allowed just four hits, all singles, and thrown six scoreless frames. He was simply at his best. 

Or so everyone thought.

Sandoval ran back out to the mound in the seventh and struck out the side — all on different pitches. The lefty tossed a gem, but his final frame put an exclamation point on the Angels’ 3-0 victory against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

“Great way to end it,” Sandoval said. “Can’t ask for a better ending.”

The finish to Sandoval’s start was impressive, but so was everything in between. Sandoval had lost his past five decisions and hadn’t won a game since May 2, but he picked up a win Friday by relying on the ground ball.

The 26-year-old’s outing could have spiraled when the Royals threatened with two on and nobody out in both the first and fifth innings, but Sandoval induced ground-ball double plays in both situations to escape unscathed. He ended his outing with 10 groundouts.

“I think the past two games, I just had a bit of bad luck with balls put in play, finding holes and spaces to drop, but today, the defense helped me out a ton,” Sandoval said. “[The double plays] were huge. Those guys are awesome back there. That play [Luis] Rengifo made going to his left and making that throw to [second] to get Bobby Witt [Jr.] doubled up was huge, especially with no outs.”

Sandoval had been relying on his slider over 31% percent of time entering Friday’s start, but he threw it 15% of the time against Kansas City — generating five whiffs on eight swings. Instead, Sandoval relied on his changeup (25%) and four-seam fastball (25%) to get out of jams, calling his own pitches on PitchCom for the first time this season.

Sandoval said the change was to eliminate wasted time while shaking off the catcher, but the change produced his first scoreless outing of more than 3 2/3 innings his season. The Royals finished the game 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position despite putting a runner on base in each of the first six innings.

“He came back out [from a tough last outing] and had a good one today,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “And we needed it, quite frankly. It probably wasn’t our best game offensively, and we made some mistakes on the bases … but overall, I thought Sandy was great. He had command of pretty much everything.”

Friday was exactly what the Angels envisioned for Sandoval at the start of 2023 after a ‘22 season in which he tossed 148 2/3 innings and had a 2.91 ERA, both career bests.

“For where we want to go, Sandy is a big key to this whole deal,” Nevin said. “I loved the way he commanded the ball today.”

In the seventh, Sandoval needed only 16 pitches to strike out the side. He rang up Drew Waters on a curveball, Dairon Blanco on a changeup and ended his night by sitting down Nick Pratto on the slider.

“He finished strong,” Nevin said. “The velocity was there too. He threw our only complete game last year and has pitched deep into games. It’s something he’s always done. He keeps himself in great shape.”

Sam Bachman took over for the final two innings and set the Royals down in order, earning his first Major League save and sealing the Angels’ 10th win in their past 12 games. Brandon Drury, back from a one-game suspension, went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. The Halos are now tied with the Astros and Yankees for the second and third Wild Card spots.

After a strong four-game set in Arlington, Nevin said Friday could have been a letdown. Instead, the Angels are now eight games over .500 for the first time this late in the season since ending the 2015 campaign 85-77. 

And Sandoval, who displayed the ability to lead a club with high expectations last season, is to thank for that. 

“In the back of my mind, it’s an easy let-up game today,” Nevin said. “Different atmospheres — and not taking anything away from [Kansas City], this is the Major Leagues, and you have to win them all — but where we came from the last couple of series [against Texas and Seattle] … you can have letdown games sometimes. This was one that sticks out for you, but we answered well. We made some mistakes early running the bases, but Sandy picked us up today.”

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