CLEVELAND — In a pitching duel between two former Mission Viejo High teammates, Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval did everything he could to give the Angels a shot to win in the late innings Sunday against the Guardians.
Sandoval battled against Guardians right-hander Tanner Bibee, his high school teammate in 2015, and allowed three runs in 7 2/3 innings, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Angels over an equally dominant Bibee in a 4-3 loss on Mother’s Day at Progressive Field.
Guardians first baseman Josh Naylor hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning to put the Guardians ahead 4-1 after Sandoval left the game. It was his third consecutive game with a home run and his second straight day with a go-ahead, three-run shot in the eighth inning against the Angels.
Angels manager Phil Nevin opted to intentionally walk Guardians All-Star third baseman José Ramírez prior to Naylor’s at-bat. Ramírez’s walk was the final batter Sandoval faced before he was pulled for closer Carlos Estévez.
“I’m not going to let José Ramírez beat me,” Nevin said. “I said that before the series started, and I had my best against (Naylor) with where we’re at right there. I felt good about the matchup. He just got into another one.”
Sandoval gave the Angels what they needed for a chance to win the series, but the Angels struggled to collect hits against Bibee, a top prospect who built a career-best effort in his fourth major league start.
Bibee also lasted 7 2/3 innings — as did Sandoval — and allowed one earned run on two hits, no walks and seven strikeouts.
Despite taking the loss, his second of the year, Sandoval was proud to see his high school friend pitch well. The two were on the Mission Viejo team that won the CIF Southern Section Division 2 title game in 2015, the year Sandoval was drafted by the Angels.
“It was very cool,” Sandoval said. “It was a proud moment for me to see a former teammate make it to the big leagues, and the way he pitched was cool.”
Sandoval attempted to pitch through the eighth, but a sacrifice bunt by Guardians second baseman Steven Kwan advanced center fielder Myles Straw to second base after a lead-off single.
Sandoval grabbed one more out on a groundout before Nevin chose to walk Ramírez and pull Sandoval after 98 pitches.
Estévez entered to face Naylor, who had hit home runs in the eighth inning in each of the first two games of the series. Estévez was aware he needed to be careful with Naylor, but he missed his spot on the second pitch of the at-bat with an 88 mph changeup.
“I just missed my spot,” Estévez said. “I threw it middle-middle, and this is the big leagues. You make a mistake, you pay for it. Definitely was not trying to go middle-middle, of course. I tried to go down and away, but I left it up and he caught it.”
The mistake handed Sandoval his only two earned runs of the game. The run he allowed in the second inning was unearned due to an error by shortstop Zach Neto, who had a ball bounce off his glove with two outs and created the opportunity for Naylor to score from second base.
Despite the loss, it was still a decent outing for Sandoval. He collected his fourth quality start of the year.
He just happened to do it against a high school friend who was up to meet the challenge.
“It would’ve been nice if he chose someone else to pitch like that against,” Sandoval said with a chuckle.
The Angels mounted a comeback on Guardians All-Star closer Emmanuel Clase in the ninth inning and scored two runs. They even had Shohei Ohtani on second base as the tying run with one out, but they were unable to bring him home, spoiling a chance to win their first series in Cleveland since 2013.
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