Noah Syndergaard dominant in Angels’ win over Rangers

Noah Syndergaard dominant in Angels win over Rangers

Seven weeks into the season, it seems fair to assume that Angels pitcher Noah Syndergaard will not be returning to the days of Thor, the triple-digit fastball he threw for the New York Mets from 2015 to 2019 failing to make the cross-country trip to Anaheim.

But as Syndergaard showed in Tuesday night’s 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers before 23,791 in Angel Stadium, he doesn’t need to light up the radar gun to be an integral part of what the Angels believe is a playoff-caliber rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander gave up one run and four hits in eight innings, striking out five and walking none, his only mistake a meaty fastball that Jonah Heim hit for a solo homer in the eighth.

Syndergaard’s four-seam fastball averaged 93.6 mph, well below his 97.8-mph average fastball in 2019, his last season before Tommy John surgery.

But he effectively mixed his 87.5-mph changeup, 93.5-mph sinking fastball, 82-mph slider and an occasional 74-mph curve with his four-seamer to improve to 4-2 with a 3.08 earned-run average in seven starts.

Of Syndergaard’s 93 pitches, 73 were strikes, a career-high 78.5% strike percentage. He threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of 27 batters. He did not have one three-ball count.

Syndergaard was coming off the worst game of his career, failing to make it out of the first inning for the first time in 126 starts on May 16, when he gave up six runs (four earned), four hits and walked two in a 7-4 loss at Texas.

“He did not like what happened to him last time,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said before the game. “I know he and [pitching coach Matt Wise] and Dom [Chiti, bullpen coach] have been talking about a couple of things. I really expect a good outing tonight.”

He got a great one. It took Syndergaard 42 pitches to record two outs in his last start. He needed 45 pitches to record the first 12 outs Tuesday night. He held Corey Seager, who entered with a .571 average against Syndergaard, hitless with two strikeouts in three at-bats.

Syndergaard retired the first 13 Rangers, Brandon Marsh preserving his perfect game bid when the left fielder leaped above the wall to rob Mitch Garver of a home run to end the fourth.

The Rangers didn’t get their first hit until Adolis Garcia dumped a one-out single to right in the fifth. Heim followed with a single to right, but Syndergaard got Nathaniel Lowe to ground out and whiffed Andy Ibanez with a 93-mph fastball.

The Angels scored four runs in the fourth, which began when Jared Walsh’s catchable fly ball to the warning track in right-center fell between Garcia and right fielder Kole Calhoun for a double. Walsh took third on Matt Duffy’s single to left and scored on Luis Rengifo’s groundout to first.

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, right, dives back to first safely as Texas Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe takes the throw from the mound during the third inning on Tuesday at Angel Stadium.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Marsh, who had three hits in the game, reached on an infield single, Duffy scoring when Seager, the Rangers shortstop, threw wildly to first for an error. Max Stassi doubled to left, Tyler Wade bunted for an RBI single, and Andrew Velazquez hit a sacrifice fly.

Walsh led off the fifth with a homer to right-center for a 5-0 lead, giving the Angels first baseman six hits, two of them homers, in eight career at-bats against Rangers right-hander Dane Dunning.

Angels right fielder Taylor Ward sat out his third straight game because of a nerve injury in his neck and right shoulder, but he was available to pinch-hit.

Head athletic trainer Mike Frostad said MRI tests on Ward’s neck and shoulder “came back pretty clean.” But Ward, injured when he slammed face-first into the wall to catch a fly ball Friday night, still feels some discomfort throwing, so he is “not able to play the field right now,” Frostad said.

Ward, hitting .370 with a 1.194 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, said the way the injury is progressing, “it shouldn’t take too long” to return to the field.

Short hops

Pitcher Griffin Canning decided after a Monday visit to a back specialist to rehabilitate the stress reaction in his lower back in hopes of pitching this season instead of undergoing season-ending surgery. … The June 12 game against the New York Mets in Angel Stadium has been picked up by ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” and will start at 4 p.m. … Right-hander Chris Rodriguez suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and has suspended his throwing program. An MRI revealed no new damage in the repaired capsule, but Rodriguez is expected to miss the season.

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