Jays' Stroman aims to tame Angels' stars
Right-hander Marcus Stroman will start for the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night in Anaheim, Calif., and as is the case for many pitchers who face the Los Angeles Angels, he will pay close attention to his matchups against Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
Trout (6-for-13, two doubles) and Pujols (5-for-10, one double) both have hit Stroman well in their careers. But Stroman cannot overlook Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who has been consistently good over the past couple weeks.
Simmons, who is 3-for-9 lifetime against Stroman, was hitting just .196 after going 0-for-5 on April 13. Since then, Simmons has hit safely in 14 of his past 15 games, including 2-for-4 on Tuesday in Los Angeles' 4-3 win over the Blue Jays, extending his hitting streak to seven games.
During the past 15 games, he's hitting .369 (24-for-65), raising his season average nearly 100 points to .289.
"Everybody's working hard, been hitting the ball hard," Simmons told reporters. "Some days they don't fall, some days they do. Right now, I'm feeling good and trying to keep it going."
Simmons has long been known for his defense -- he has won two consecutive Gold Gloves, and four overall in his career.
"He looks great," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's doing everything defensively we know he can do, and he's starting to swing that bat well."
Stroman is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in five career games (four starts) against the Angels. He owns a 1-3 overall record in six starts this season despite a 1.43 ERA. He went nine consecutive starts without a win, going back to last July 27, before ending the streak on April 19 with a victory over Oakland.
Stroman got a no-decision in his latest start, also against Oakland, despite throwing his best game of the season -- seven innings, no runs, one hit, two walks, seven strikeouts.
His performance was largely overlooked because it also happened to be the same game in which Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his debut. However, Stroman admitted the excitement surrounding Guerrero's presence in the lineup might have helped him on the mound.
"I was probably just as excited as the entire fan base, to be honest with you, getting Vladdy up here," said Stroman, who turns 28 on Wednesday. "It's like having Zion Williamson on your team. It's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent. Just to have the opportunity to play with him is amazing, to look out there and see him behind me at third base. I think it's going to give us a huge mental edge."
Right-hander Felix Pena will start Wednesday for the Angels, still looking for his first win of the season. He's 0-1 with a 3.63 ERA in five games (four starts) this season. In his last appearance, he entered the game to start the second inning against the Yankees after reliever Cam Bedrosian pitched the first inning as the "opener."
The change of routine didn't affect Pena negatively, as he had his best performance of the year, tossing five innings and giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits and no walks with eight strikeouts.
Pena is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two career games (one start) vs. Toronto.
--Field Level Media
Updated May 1, 2019