Anthony Rendon OK after injury scare in Angels' loss to Rays; José Quintana struggles
A day after he was drilled in the right elbow by a 93.4-mph fastball, Angels right-hander Shohei Ohtani was scratched from Monday night’s scheduled start against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium.
Left-hander José Quintana took Ohtani’s place and took a beating in a 7-3 loss, giving up five runs and six hits in a 3 2/3-inning start that could jeopardize his spot in the rotation, but the pitcher was the least of the team’s concerns.
Of far greater significance was a scary scene in the eighth inning, when third baseman and cleanup man Anthony Rendon crumpled to the ground after fouling a pitch from sidearm-throwing Ryan Thompson off his left knee and had to be helped off the field.
The play was eerily reminiscent of one in which then-Angels infielder Tommy La Stella fouled a ball off his right leg and suffered a fractured tibia in June 2019. Rendon, who recently returned from a left-groin strain, was replaced by Scott Schebler, who struck out to end the inning
But the Angels got some good news after the game when X-rays of Rendon’s knee were negative. He was diagnosed with a bruise and listed as day to day.
“It did not look good live — he hit himself pretty good,” manager Joe Maddon said. “You see guys get hit like that, you think a lot of different things.”
The Angels trimmed a 5-0 deficit to 5-3 in the sixth when Ohtani crushed a two-run homer to center field and Rendon hit a solo shot to left off Rays starter Tyler Glasnow. Manuel Margot’s two-run homer in the ninth pushed Tampa Bay’s lead to 7-3.
The Angels did not help themselves with two ill-advised gambles on the basepaths. Ohtani was thrown out attempting to steal third with one out and Mike Trout at the plate in the first. “Probably a little overzealous in that moment,” Maddon said.
With the Angels trailing by two runs, Albert Pujols led off the seventh with a single. José Iglesias lofted a fly ball toward the line in left but not too deep. The 41-year-old, heavy-legged Pujols tagged and was thrown out by Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena.
“Albert felt like he hesitated and should not have gone once he hesitated,” Maddon said. “Of course, it’s a pretty big out right there, and he knew that.”
Quintana entered with an 0-2 record and 10.13 ERA and — despite striking out nine — departed with a 10.59 ERA, the highest mark for a pitcher in his first five games (minimum 15 innings) with the Angels, topping Trevor Bell’s 9.53 ERA in 2009 and Julio Teheran’s 9.17 ERA in 2020.
The game could not have started better for Quintana, who struck out five of his first six batters, but when Francisco Mejia singled to lead off the third, Quintana seemed to lose his tempo, rhythm and command out of the stretch.
Willy Adames hit a 107-mph rocket to the gap in right-center for a double. Kevin Kiermaier struck out, Arozarena walked to load the bases, and Mike Brousseau rolled a two-run single to left.
Austin Meadows flied out to right, but Yandy Diaz hit a broken-bat RBI single to left and Margot added an RBI single to center for a 4-0 lead. Adames blasted a 446-foot homer to left-center off Quintana for a 5-0 lead in the fourth.
“Bad luck is the only luck this guy’s got,” Maddon said of Quintana. “The numbers weren’t good. He gave up five runs, but he walks one and strikes out nine in 3 2/3 innings. How does that happen?
“There were two well-struck balls. Adames got him both times. I know it’s probably difficult to defend and people aren’t going to understand it, but from where I was standing, he threw the ball well.”
Maddon said Ohtani was too sore to throw but not too sore to swing a bat. That was clear when Ohtani drove a ball 427 feet in the sixth for his ninth homer, tying him for the major league lead.
The Angels weren’t about to risk sending Ohtani to the mound with a sore elbow after he threw a combined 1 2/3 innings in 2019 and 2020 after Tommy John surgery.
“It would be challenging to try to throw 90 to 100 pitches at 95 to 100 mph,” Maddon said. “We wanted to give it a day or two to relax, then we’ll make another evaluation.”
Ohtani could pitch later in the four-game Rays series. If not, he will likely pitch this coming weekend against the Dodgers.
The Angels put setup man Mike Mayers on the injured list without a designation, meaning he could be experiencing side effects from a COVID-19 vaccination or have had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. The right-hander is expected to return within a few days. Left-hander Patrick Sandoval was recalled and pitched two scoreless innings of relief Monday night.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.