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Anthony Rendon's homer sparks Angels to win over Athletics

Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

For all of Anthony Rendon's struggles to make consistent contact in his first 12 games, Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon saw one reason for encouragement that his new third baseman was on the verge of breaking out of an early season funk.

While Rendon's average fell to a dismal .103 after Sunday's loss at Texas, his on-base percentage stood at .364 thanks to the 14 walks -- tied for the second most in the major leagues -- he had drawn.

"It tells me one thing, that for the most part, he's not expanding the strike zone," Maddon said. "But the bad part is that he's been missing his pitch. There's been a lot of foul balls straight back.

"For me, it's just a matter of time with this guy. It will be a rhythm thing or a feel thing, and once he gets ignited, once he gets toasty, man ... it's not going to go away."

Rendon, a former Washington Nationals star who signed a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Angels in December, might not fit Maddon's definition of "toasty" just yet, but he's definitely getting warmed up.

Rendon sparked a five-run, fourth-inning rally with a leadoff homer to left field Tuesday night, snapping a scoreless tie with his second homer in as many games to jump-start a 6-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium.

 

Jason Castro followed singles by Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols with a three-run homer to center, and Brian Goodwin hit a solo shot to right in the fourth to propel the Angels toward their second consecutive win over a team that arrived in Anaheim with a nine-game winning streak.

Rendon also hit a two-run homer, walked twice, singled and scored three runs in Monday night's win. He singled in the first inning Tuesday and walked in the eighth, raising his batting average from .103 to .174 in two games. He has a .415 on-base percentage and 17 walks on the season.

"If you look at the definition of toasty, it's at least three well-struck baseballs on a nightly basis, even if they're not hits," Maddon said. "What you're seeing with Anthony is when he gets his pitch, it's not being taken and it's not being fouled off. When it comes into his area, it's going fair and hard, and that's all you can ask for. So, I think he's on the cusp of being toasty."

David Fletcher's 355-foot solo shot to left in the seventh gave the Angels at least four home runs in consecutive games for the fifth time in franchise history and the first time at home. That was more than enough offense to back the superb pitching of Dylan Bundy, who has emerged as the staff ace after December's trade from Baltimore.

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