After discouraging injury news, Angels head east to face Mets

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Field Level Media
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Jul 8, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) and center fielder Mike Trout (27) look on from the dugout during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Jul 8, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) and center fielder Mike Trout (27) look on from the dugout during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Image: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels' flickering dreams of mounting a playoff run with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout in the lineup likely ended late Wednesday night.

Now the Angels, and everyone else who follows Major League Baseball, wait to see how long it will be before Ohtani resumes his two-way duties — or if he ever does.

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Reeling from the spate of bad news they received Wednesday, the Angels will begin a road trip Friday by visiting the New York Mets in the opener of a three-game series.

The Angels are scheduled to start left-hander Patrick Sandoval (6-10, 4.08 ERA). Rookie right-hander Kodai Senga (10-6, 3.19) is slated to start for the Mets.

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Both teams were off Thursday after enduring a discouraging Wednesday. The host Angels lost twice to the Cincinnati Reds, who completed a three-game series sweep by earning a 9-4 win in the opener of a doubleheader and a 7-3 win in the nightcap. The visiting Mets fell to the Atlanta Braves 7-0 in the rubber game of a three-game series.

The news got much worse for the Angels after Wednesday's second game, when general manager Perry Minasian announced Trout was headed back to the injured list with a left hand injury and Ohtani — who started the opener on the mound but left after 1 1/3 innings with what was described as arm fatigue — was diagnosed with a torn UCL in his right elbow.

Minasian said Ohtani — who hit his major league-leading 44th homer before exiting the first game and went 1-for-5 with a double in the nightcap — would not pitch again this season.

Ohtani will get a second opinion before deciding whether to undergo surgery. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and was limited to designated hitter duties in 2019 before making just two pitching appearances during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

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"I don't know what to expect," Minasian said. "We're going to go day-to-day and just see how it goes. See how he feels, I think as we get more information — as far as recovery time and all those types of things — we'll have more information down the road."

The Ohtani news could cause a ripple for years for the Angels and the unicorn-like superstar, who is headed for free agency after the season and was in line to receive the biggest contract in baseball history.

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In the short term, the loss of Ohtani at least as a pitcher — he was 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 23 starts — and another absence for Trout makes the road to October even more treacherous for the Angels, who haven't made the playoffs since 2014.

The two losses Wednesday dropped the Angels to 5-16 in August — the worst record in baseball — and 10 1/2 games behind the Seattle Mariners in the race for the third wild card in the American League.

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The Mets head home after receiving their own reality check. New York beat the Braves 10-4 on Monday night for its seventh win in nine games but never led in the final two games in Atlanta.

The Mets — who went 101-61 last year and lost the National League East to the Braves via the head-to-head tiebreaker — finished 3-10 against Atlanta this season. At 59-69, New York is eight games behind the Reds, who occupy the NL's third wild-card spot.

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"They're a 100-win team," Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor said of the Braves. "We saw last year that we were a 100-win team and this year we're not. Things can change very quick. With that being said, we're nowhere near a 100-win team this year. We've got a lot of work to do."

Senga earned the win last Saturday, when he allowed one run over seven innings as the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 13-2. He has never opposed the Angels. Sandoval took the loss last Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing six runs (two earned) and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings in the Angels' 18-4 loss. He has faced the Mets once before, giving up two runs and eight hits in six innings last season.

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—Field Level Media