Even with Mike Trout sidelined indefinitely, the Los Angeles Angels are on a roll for really the first time this season.
Much-improved starting pitching and more timely hitting are probably the two biggest reasons why they aren’t missing Trout badly at the moment, and the Halos got plenty of both as they finished up a strong homestand by sweeping the Kansas City Royals.
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Griffin Canning pitched five-hit ball into the seventh inning and Anthony Rendon hit a two-run double in Los Angeles’ 6-1 victory over Kansas City on Wednesday night.
Kean Wong had a two-run single and José Iglesias added an RBI double for the Angels, who have won eight of 11 after completing a 5-2 homestand and outscoring Kansas City 22-5 in the three-game sweep. Los Angeles is still mired in fourth place in the AL West despite winning 11 of 16 since May 23 and averaging 6 1/2 runs per game in June, but Trout’s teammates see progress.
“It’s a long season, so just because we weren’t necessarily hitting our stride early on doesn’t mean we can’t get going,” Canning said after his longest start of the season. “It’s just keeping that confidence and putting in the work. It helps when guys are throwing well and you don’t want to be the odd man out.”
Canning (5-4) looked sharp, yielding two walks — both in the first inning — while striking out six. He retired 10 straight Royals before getting chased by Nicky Lopez’s two-out single in the seventh.
Angels manager Joe Maddon called it Canning’s best start of the year.
“He really operated the curveball well today,” Maddon said. “The curveball, I think, is a really good pitch, and it gives every hitter a different velocity and speed to be concerned with.”
Kelvin Gutiérrez drove in the only run for the Royals, who have lost five straight. They managed only five hits and stranded eight runners in the series finale.
Brad Keller (6-5) took his first loss in seven starts, permitting five runs on eight hits and four walks. The big right-hander hadn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since April 20.
“It’s frustrating, because I’ve been on a pretty good stretch where I’m getting some good starts and getting some results,” Keller said. “I had some good stuff. I think I just left too many balls up. If I drive the ball down a little bit better, maybe the results are different. I’ve just got to be better than that.”
Kansas City has lost 14 of its 19 meetings with the Angels since 2018.
After Justin Upton walked and Shohei Ohtani singled in the third, Rendon drove them home with a double to the right field wall. The drive was just the sixth extra-base hit — all doubles — in the last 26 games for Rendon, who hasn’t homered since May 3.
Salvador Pérez singled leading off the fourth, advanced on Jorge Soler’s double and scored on an infield single by Gutiérrez, who got his first RBI of June.
Jared Walsh walked and scored on Iglesias’ double in the sixth. Keller was chased moments later by a flare to center from the 26-year-old Wong, who had one career RBI before that two-run hit.
Max Stassi doubled and scored on Juan Lagares’ groundout in the eighth.
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Canning got out of a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the first inning despite walking two and making a throwing error, a rare fielding mistake for last season’s AL Gold Glove winner. The error was the 46th of the season for the Angels, who lead the majors.
Canning got a grounder from Hunter Dozier to end the threat.
“We don’t capitalize on those opportunities, it deflates,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “It’s something I don’t necessarily want to be true, but it is. Guy out there with some swing-and-miss sliders, it’s easier said than done, but I know this group can get it done.”
Royals: SS Adalberto Mondesí took batting practice, Matheny said. Mondesí has been out since May with a hamstring injury in his second stint on the injured list this season.
Angels: Wong is a second baseman, but he played his second game of the season in right field. The Halos are down to three healthy outfielders with Trout sidelined by a right calf injury.
Royals: Mike Minor (4-3, 4.84 ERA) pitches at Oakland on Thursday in the opener of a four-game weekend series with the Athletics.
Angels: After a day off Thursday, Ohtani (2-1, 2.76 ERA) takes the mound Friday in Arizona for his ninth pitching start of the season, and the first of his career in a National League ballpark.