Jared Walsh might have finally found a home in right field for the Los Angeles Angels.
Walsh went 4-for-4 Saturday with two home runs and three RBIs as the Angels defeated the host Seattle Mariners 10-5.
The teams will wrap up their three-game series Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Park.
In a lineup with Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon and Albert Pujols, Walsh is batting .360 with a team-leading 21 RBIs.
“This is not a flash in the pan,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “This guy is that good.”
As recently as 2019, Walsh was, much like Ohtani, a two-way player for the Angels. He made five appearances on the mound in the majors that season with a 1.80 ERA and 13 more at Triple-A Salt Lake.
He spent the pandemic-shortened 2020 season strictly as a hitter and batted .293 with nine homers and 26 RBIs in 32 games, receiving some votes for the American League Rookie of the Year award that went to Seattle’s Kyle Lewis.
Walsh hit a solo homer to left-center field in the first inning Saturday to give the Angels a 3-0 lead.
“It’s always good in your first at-bat to get a hit, let alone a home run,” he said.
His two-run shot to right capped a five-run second inning and gave Los Angeles an 8-0 lead.
“I love that he hates striking out,” Maddon said. “That’s why you’re seeing the ball shooting all over the field. You’re seeing extreme power with the ability to hit for average, too.”
Dexter Fowler opened the season as the Angels’ right fielder but suffered a season-ending knee injury on April 9. Juan Lagares took over but also got hurt, opening the door for Walsh.
“I’ve played right field a lot,” Walsh said. “I played it growing up, some in high school, college, even in the minor leagues, but you’ve got to continue to prove yourself. It was good to get some games under the belt. It’s always a work in progress.”
The Angels’ Nos. 3-5 hitters — Trout, Rendon and Walsh — combined to go 9-for-13 Saturday with four home runs, nine RBIs and six runs scored.
“We saw the power that the Angels have in their lineup,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It showed up (Saturday).”
Angels right-hander Dylan Bundy (0-2, 4.20 ERA) is scheduled to start the rubber game of the series Sunday. Bundy is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA In seven career games against Seattle, including five starts. Two of his three career complete games and his only shutout have come against the Mariners.
Seattle is set to counter with left-hander Justus Sheffield (1-2, 5.32), who will face the Angels for the first time in his career.
The Mariners’ rotation is in flux after injuries to left-handers Marco Gonzales, Nick Margevicius and James Paxton.
Paxton will miss the rest of the season, while Gonzales and Margevicius were put on the injured list in the past week.
Mariners right-hander Ljay Newsome made his first start of the season Saturday in place of Margevicius and allowed eight runs in two innings.
“That presents challenges,” Servais said. “There’s no question about it. You lean on starting pitching so heavily in this league.”
–Field Level Media
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