Losing for the fourth time in five games, the Angels were officially eliminated from postseason contention on Monday night, as the Rangers beat them 4-3.
The Angels did try to come back from 3-0 down. The Rangers, getting ready for Friday’s ALDS Game 1, pulled starter C.J. Wilson after two innings and turned to Mark Hamburger. Hamburger kept the Halos scoreless until the sixth, when Mike Trout singled in a run and Bobby Abreu walked with the bases loaded.
That made it 3-2 Rangers. The Rangers added an insurance run when Michael Young singled in Elvis Andrus in the eighth, and it proved crucial, as the Angels could come back with only one run off Neftali Feliz in the ninth.
Dan Haren, who left his last start with a left wrist contusion suffered when he was hit by a liner, went eight innings for the Angels. He struck out eight, and one of the four runs he gave up was unearned, the result of a Jeff Mathis error.
With the victory, the Rangers stayed one game up on the Tigers for home-field advantage in the first round of the postseason. It obviously wasn’t too important to Texas — note Wilson’s early exit — but it’d seem terribly advantageous to miss the Yankees in the ALDS. The winner of the wild card, whether it’s the Red Sox or Rays, is likely to be poorly set up for the postseason opener, especially if the two teams have to take part in a one-game playoff Thursday.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.