ANAHEIM — A subpar outing for Shohei Ohtani and some defensive miscues were central to the Angels’ 7-5 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday night, but the hosts did show some of the offensive spark they need going into the second half of the season.
Mickey Moniak went 3 for 5 with an RBI to pace a 12-hit attack. Shohei Ohtani, Hunter Renfroe and Taylor Ward each had two hits, including Ward’s 10th home run of the season – his first since June 17.
Given the Angels’ lengthy list of injuries, the type of offensive performance they had Friday night is reason for optimism.
“I thought we did great, I thought that we put together quality at-bats,” Moniak said. “Obviously, there’s stuff to clean up on defense, but offensively we can hang with the best, even with the injuries.”
Manager Phil Nevin agreed that the offense was not to blame.
“We scored five runs. That should have been enough with our best on the mound and it wasn’t,” Nevin said. “That was it.”
The Angels started Friday with a series of roster transactions, officially adding outfielder Jo Adell and third baseman Anthony Rendon to the injury list. The team is still reeling from the wrist injury that will sideline Mike Trout until at least mid-August, but hopes to get shortstop Zach Neto back up to speed after the rookie missed a month with a strained oblique.
Moniak had hits in his first three at-bats Friday, with the third one driving in Ohtani in the fifth inning to cut the Astros’ lead to 4-3.
Moniak has been a steady presence for the Angels thus far and is batting .319 while his OPS is up to .992.
It’s been a struggle for Ward at the plate this season. He went into Friday’s game with a .695 OPS while batting .243, and the 10-game stretch before the All-Star break saw him hit .188 with a .615 OPS.
Ward’s seventh-inning solo home run – a 410-foot blast to left field – was a loud sign of life from a bat the Angels desperately need to get going.
The Angels are going to need production from players other than Ohtani to try to climb into playoff position, and they remain confident that a turnaround is possible despite Friday’s loss, their sixth straight and the 10th in their past 11 games.
“You just look around the clubhouse and you see the type of players we have. It’s a great baseball team,” veteran first baseman Mike Moustakas said. “Obviously we’re not playing up to our capabilities right now and we just have to find a way to turn it around.”