ANAHEIM — It requires a good deal of optimism to think that the entirely homegrown lineup the Angels used on Friday night has the same future as the one they last used 23 years ago.
That one contained the core of a World Series winner. This one is at least finishing a mostly miserable season on an upward trajectory.
Using a starting lineup with 10 players who had never appeared in another major league uniform, the Angels beat the Texas Rangers, 4-1, to win their fifth straight game.
The last time the Angels’ entire lineup, including the pitcher, consisted of homegrown players was Aug. 27, 1999, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The lineup that day against the Boston Red Sox included several of the key players who raised the World Series trophy in 2002: Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson, Darin Erstad, Troy Glaus and Bengie Molina.
This time the Angels started catcher Logan O’Hoppe, first baseman Matt Thaiss, second baseman David Fletcher, shortstop Livan Soto, third baseman Luis Rengifo, left fielder Jo Adell, center fielder Mike Trout, right fielder Taylor Ward, designated hitter Shohei Ohtani and pitcher Reid Detmers.
Six of the players in the lineup were Angels’ draft picks, including five first-rounders. O’Hoppe and Rengifo were acquired in trades as minor leaguers. Soto was signed as a free agent in the minors. Ohtani picked the Angels when he came to the majors from Japan.
“That’s pretty cool,” manager Phil Nevin said after he was alerted to the rarity of this type of lineup.
Nevin added that the Angels, who have struggled to produce their own talent for years, seem to be finally turning the corner.
“I don’t think there’s any secret where this organization was even a couple years ago,” Nevin said. “In a short time, you can see the depth coming. You can see the talent coming.”
Four of those first-rounders – Trout (2009), Ward (2015), Adell (2017) and Detmers (2020) – had key contributions to the victory.
Detmers gave up one run in six innings in his final start of the season, striking out nine and walking one.
“Last couple weeks have been a little bit of struggle, but it was a good bounce back,” Detmers said. “I’m glad the way it went. It was good way to end the season.”
Detmers finished his first full season in the big leagues with a 7-6 record and 3.77 ERA over 25 starts and 129 innings. In the middle of that, he pitched one game at Triple-A, and it turned out to be significant. Although Detmers threw a no-hitter in May, he was struggling when the Angels sent him down in June. He rediscovered a mechanical tweak to improve his slider during his one game at Salt Lake. Since returning, Detmers posted a 3.04 ERA in 13 starts.
“It was a tremendous year for a guy two years out of college,” Nevin said. “You can see there’s a really high ceiling there.”
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Detmers was supported early by a second-inning homer from Adell, his eighth of the season. The ball rocketed off his bat at 109.5 mph and sailed over the fence in left-center.
“He really got into that,” Nevin said. “Wow. You’re thinking line drive to the gap and then it just keeps carrying. The ball keeps getting smaller. That’s how he hits them. You watch him take batting practice. He’s strong. He’s got some serious bat speed.”
Rengifo added a homer in the third inning, his 17th of the season. In the fifth inning, Trout doubled and Ward drove him in with his second hit of the night.
Ward started the season on fire, hit a slump for a couple of months after suffering a shoulder injury in late May, and is now finishing strong. He is hitting .407 and his OPS is 1.161 OPS in his last 23 games.
Ohtani also chipped in a pair of singles, extending his hitting streak to 15 games, an ongoing career best.