PHOENIX - Patrick Sandoval is turning into a pretty good pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. He’s also become a ringer at a fairly mundane task: Picking up the pregame lineup card, walking it to home plate and handing it to the umpires.
Max Stassi hit a two-run homer in the first, Sandoval delivered the winning lineup card for a sixth straight game and the Los Angeles Angels rolled to a 10-3 victory over the plunging Arizona Diamondbacks.
The left-handed Sandoval also delivered on the mound on Sunday, multi-tasking by pitching four-hit ball over six innings.
"It really comes down to the starting pitching," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "Sandy was really good."
But Sandoval didn’t let his pesky pitching responsibilities distract him from once again delivering the lucky lineup card. The 24-year-old said he was nervous when teammates told him to take the card out before Monday’s game against the Royals.
"I dropped the card the first time, but I’m getting pretty good at it, I think," Sandoval said grinning.
The Angels moved above .500 for the first time since May 1 at 33-32. The Diamondbacks have lost 10 straight games and 33 of 38, falling to a big-league worst 20-46 this season. They’re on pace for nearly 115 losses this season.
"It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to walk through in my managerial career," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
Stassi crushed his two-run shot on a full count, with the ball traveling 440 feet as it easily cleared the left-center field fence. The Angels added four runs in the second for a 6-0 lead, chasing Jon Duplantier (0-3).
"Stassi throwing the first punch," Maddon said. "That was outstanding."
Duplantier lasted just 1 1/3 innings and gave up six runs. His ERA jumped to 13.15 this season. Lovullo said it was "not a good day" for the 26-year-old right-hander.
Sandoval (1-2) gained his first win this year, easing through his first six innings without much trouble. He walked his first two batters and the Angels went to the bullpen.
His improvement has helped stabilize the Angels’ rotation with five solid outings since moving into a starter’s role.
Maddon said Sandoval was outstanding and looked like was getting comfortable in his role as a big leaguer. He’s also got an eye on the pitcher’s lineup card prowess: The manager said he would pay a bounty to the first player delivering 10 winning lineup cards in a row.
The left-handed Sandoval gave up two earned runs, struck out four and walked two. Angels leadoff hitter Justin Upton had three hits and scored two runs. Jared Walsh added a two-run homer — his 14th of the season — in the eighth.
Sandoval helped himself at the plate in the second inning, getting his first big league hit when he faked a bunt, pulled the bat back and then slapped a bouncing single over the charging defense.
The 30-year-old Stassi continued his breakout season. This is the ninth straight year he’s been in the big leagues, but he’s only once had more than 100 at-bats in a season.
These days, he’s a key contributor in the middle of the Angels’ order, batting .339 with five homers. It’s a big reason Los Angeles has been able to rise in the standings without star Mike Trout, who has missed multiple weeks with a strained right calf.
Arizona is on its second double-digit losing streak this season after a 13-game skid from May 17-29. Ketel Marte led the Diamondbacks with two hits and a walk.
The Diamondbacks might not be playing good baseball these days, but they did unveil some slick new jerseys on Sunday.
The sand-colored jerseys say "Serpientes" — which is the Spanish translation for snakes — with the capital "S" doubling as a snake that winds across the uniform. The Diamondbacks will debut the jerseys on Friday against the Dodgers.
The jerseys are part of the Nike MLB City Connect Series.
In recent years, the Diamondbacks have put a heavy emphasis on Arizona’s Hispanic culture. According to the most recent U.S. Census, 42% of the state identifies as Hispanic.
"We are proud to be among the first teams to launch our City Connect uniforms that pay homage to so much of what makes life in Arizona unique," said D-backs President Derrick Hall. "This concept is about bringing our community together, with respect for the past and an eye toward the future."
The Angels continue their trip on Monday at Oakland. They will send RHP Dylan Bundy (1-6, 6.16 ERA) to the mound to face Oakland’s LHP Sean Manaea (5-2, 3.09).
The Diamondbacks will try to end their 19-game road losing streak when they travel to face the San Francisco Giants on Monday. They will send RHP Matt Peacock (2-3, 5.24) to the mound to face San Francisco LHP Alex Wood (5-3, 3.79).
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