Just call it another bump in the road in a season the Los Angeles Angels would rather soon forget.
Heading into the finale of a four-game series on the road against the Seattle Mariners, the Angels potentially lost newly acquired outfielder Mickey Moniak to a finger injury. He was hit by a pitchon a bunt attempt in the ninth inning of the nightcap of a doubleheader Saturday.
"It's not looking good," Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. "I'm crushed for him, but it's a part of the game."
There was early excitement in Anaheim about Moniak, acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Noah Syndergaard at the trade deadline. He was filling in nicely for Mike Trout, who is sidelined with an injury affecting his left rib cage and lower back.
Moniak, 24, a Southern California native, is batting .286 with two homers and three RBIs in his first five games with the Angels. He led off the fourth inning of the nightcap with a home run as the Angels won 7-1 to earn a split of the day-night doubleheader.
It had been a new start for Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, who never quite caught on with the Phillies. He hit just .129 with one homer and five RBIs in 47 games over the past three seasons with the Phillies.
But it's the story of the one-step forward, two-step backward season for the Angels, who were 27-17 on May 24 with optimism swirling that the club finally had put together a team good enough to make the playoffs.
Instead, the 2022 Angels have lived through a 14-game, franchise-record losing streak; the firing of manager Joe Maddon; talk that star pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani wants to leave the franchise in free agency after the 2023 season; and, of course, the injury to Trout, who hasn't played since July 12.
The Mariners, however, have a legitimate chance at making the playoffs for the first time since 2001, which would snap the longest postseason drought among all teams in the four major North American sports leagues. They enter Sunday's action 12 games behind the Houston Astros in the American League West -- the Angels are 23 1/2 games behind -- but holding on to the third wild-card spot.
They'd love nothing more than to beat the Angels on Sunday and salvage a split before the New York Yankees come to town for three games.
On Sunday, the Mariners will start left-hander Marco Gonzales (6-11, 3.95 ERA), who is 9-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 19 career starts against the Angels. He took a 2-1 road loss to them June 26 in a game marred by a benches-clearing brawl.
Left-hander Tucker Davidson (1-2. 6.46) is scheduled to make his Angels debut after being acquired from the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline as part of the deal for closer Raisel Iglesias. Davidson will face Seattle for the first time.
The Mariners have had trouble scoring at home against the Angels. Seattle was blanked in the final two games of a series in mid-June, then was scoreless until the ninth inning of Friday's opener before tallying three times to force extra innings in a 4-3 defeat. Ty France's two-run homer gave them a 2-1 victory in Saturday's first game of the twin bill, while their only run in the nightcap came on Luis Torrens' solo shot.
"We struggled (Saturday), that's the bottom line," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "When we get it all clicking, it should be a really tough lineup to get through, (but) it's just not clicking."
--Field Level Media