ANAHEIM — A season Patrick Sandoval would prefer to forget appeared to come to an end Monday night with traffic on the bases and the ultimate destination nowhere within reach.
Sandoval winced on a 3-and-2 pitch to the Texas Rangers’ Mitch Garver in the fourth inning while issuing his fifth walk of the game. A meeting on the mound ended with Sandoval walking off the field and toward 2024 with an oblique injury.
When it was over the Rangers had a 5-1 victory over the Angels while reducing their magic number for clinching the American League West to four.
Neither Sandoval nor Manager Phil Nevin officially would rule out an appearance in the season finale on Sunday, although Nevin came as close as possible to saying his starter would not appear again.
“Obviously it’s fresh, it just happened, but usually when a guy walks off the mound like that, it’s not very good,” Nevin said.
Sandoval’s year started out so promising in the World Baseball Classic, but it likely ended with a 7-13 record and a 4.11 ERA in 28 starts, including Monday’s no-decision.
In a microcosm of how it went this season, Sandoval did not give up a run in the three-plus innings of work Monday, but it was the internal numbers that told the story. In addition to his five walks, Sandoval gave up two hits, while recording nine outs on 65 pitches, only 32 of which were strikes.
Of Sandoval’s seven wins this season, none were against a playoff-bound team. And yet, he isn’t completely to blame with 23 unearned runs (the most in MLB).
“Definitely a big learning year for me, navigating the ups and downs of this game and a lot of downs this year personally and as a team,” Sandoval said. “We didn’t really accomplish what we set out to accomplish this year and it was definitely a big learning experience.”
Sandoval was part of what appeared to be a trio of impressive left-handed starters for the Angels – alongside Reid Detmers and Tyler Anderson – when the season began. Making it look so promising is that the three were a complement to the designated ace of the staff in right-hander Shohei Ohtani.
And Sandoval looked ready for the task at hand while pitching for Mexico in the WBC when he gave up one total run in outings against the United States and Japan. He then gave up just one run in each of his first two starts of the regular season before inconsistencies arrived.
With less than a week remaining, Sandoval’s 74 walks are the third-most in the American League and more than anybody in the league who is not on the staff of the Chicago White Sox.
Nevin, though, would not call it a lost season for his starter.
“I feel good about him every time he goes out,” Nevin said. “I don’t know what the league average (ERA) is for a starter but he’s well below that if you’re going to just look at ERA. He’s kept us in games. There were learning moments for him too, getting behind in counts.
“But you look at his overall work, for a disappointing season to finish 4.11, I think we’re looking at somebody that has a really good future in front of him still.”
And despite the short start Monday and the early use of the bullpen, the Angels held a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning on a second-inning home run from rookie Logan O’Hoppe.
It was a day for a few Angels’ rookies, at least, with Nolan Schanuel collecting a double in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to 27 games at the start of his career, moving him alone into fourth place on the all-time list.
Yet Schanuel also departed, leaving in the seventh inning from the effects of a foul ball off his left knee just before hitting his first-inning double.
“It got me on the top of the kneecap and I tried to tough it out,” Schanuel said. “It just wasn’t feeling the way I wanted it to feel at all.”
Schanuel did remain on the field long enough to witness the Rangers’ home-run barrage in the sixth inning with Adolis Garcia, Garver and Nathaniel Lowe all going deep in succession against right-hander Jimmy Herget.
Marcus Semien added a home run for Texas in the seventh inning against Jaime Barria, with the right-hander uncorking a wild pitch in the eighth for the Rangers’ final run.
Short on arms, the Angels used right-hander Carson Fulmer for an inning, one day after he threw 70 pitches while taking a loss on the road against the Minnesota Twins.
“Carson Fulmer going down there and calling us and saying he can take the ball after throwing (70) pitches yesterday,” Nevin said. “I tell you what, the intensity he brings, I just wanted to point that out. That’s a gamer right there.”