While professional athletes across the country declined to stage games to protest racial injustice and police brutality after the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Angels were idle.
Their game against Houston on Wednesday was postponed because of Hurricane Laura. Thursday’s game was played Tuesday as part of a doubleheader.
The opportunity to join the Dodgers and other MLB clubs that refused to play passed by the Angels. But they showed solidarity on Friday before their 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners. Not long after a tribute to Jackie Robinson was played on the Angel Stadium videoboard, four Black players on the Angels and seven Black players on the Mariners headed to the center of the field to link arms during a recording of the national anthem.
Justin Upton, Brian Goodwin, Jo Adell and Keynan Middleton were joined on the field by Angels teammates Mike Trout, David Fletcher and Anthony Rendon.
In a pregame videoconference, Angels manager Joe Maddon didn’t allude to this action. But he did praise his players, with whom he discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and related topics multiple times this summer.
“They’re letting their voices be heard and I love all of that,” Maddon said. “I am so proud to be part of that. And not only within our group here but within the entire industry and beyond.”
He added later: “There’s been a lot of personal growth, internal, mental growth among the group. And, of course, talking specifically about having a social conscience, which is going to carry them a long way beyond their baseball career.”
Upton and Goodwin are members of the Players Alliance, a group of more than 100 current and former Black MLB players who joined forces this summer to drive change and address inequalities within the sport. The organization announced Thursday that members would donate their salaries from games played on Jackie Robinson Day to the Alliance, which will support “efforts to combat racial inequality and aid the Black families and communities deeply affected in the wake of recent events.”
“It’s special for us to to be able to connect with a lot of guys that you don’t see a lot throughout the game, share experiences and share beliefs and share the things that guys are doing in their communities and being able to support them in that,” Upton said. “I think it’s the start of something good for us and good for baseball. We’re definitely happy about the support we’ve gotten.”
Friday wasn’t the first time Goodwin, Upton and Middleton were involved in demonstrations. Accompanied by Noé Ramirez and Andrelton Simmons, the three knelt during the national anthem in the season opener.
Asked the following week about the gesture, Goodwin explained he wanted to raise awareness about systemic racism.
#Angels and Mariners players gathered and hooked arms in the center of Angel Stadium during the national anthem. For Angels: Goodwin, Upton, Middleton, Adell, Trout and Fletcher pic.twitter.com/dCSAw7Mb6M
“It’s continuing to happen,” Goodwin said. “It’s an important issue. It’s something that needs to be addressed, and when you have the stage to address it, I feel like you need to use it. And right now, I’m in position to have the stage and have the support from Angels, so it would be a detriment to people who know me and my fans and people back home for me to not take advantage of it.”
Goodwin recently teamed up with the Play Equity Fund, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit dedicated to improving nationwide access to sports programs. Through MLB.com, he is auctioning a pair of signed game-worn cleats that he had customized with artwork honoring Kobe Bryant and Nipsey Hussle. Proceeds will benefit both Play Equity Fund and the Angels Foundation.
The Angels traded Tommy La Stella to Oakland on Friday night, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement who wasn’t authorized to publicly comment.
It became apparent that La Stella was on the move when he emerged from the clubhouse during the second inning. He began tapping teammates and coaches on the shoulder. He even left the dugout to hug players who were sitting in the stands.
La Stella, whom the Angels acquired from the Chicago Cubs ahead of the 2019 season, enjoyed a breakout in Anaheim. He became a first-time All-Star and this season became a reliable option at first base.
La Stella, a pending free agent, goes to a team that entered Friday atop the American League West with a 22-10 record.
Maddon said the Angels want Sandoval and infielder Luis Rengifo, who was optioned after Tuesday’s doubleheader, to work on different areas of their game.
Sandoval imploded in his start Monday against the Astros. After a five-pitch first inning, he threw 30 pitches in a two-run, four-hit second inning. He threw 29 pitches in a third inning that he couldn’t finish, giving up three runs and three hits.
Sandoval gave up 14 earned runs and issued six walks in his last 12⅔ innings spanning three starts. Opponents hit .333 with a gaudy 1.011 on-base-plus- slugging percentage against him.
In his his last two outings, opponents hit five for eight against his changeup, which is typically his most effective pitch.
Rengifo, who joined the team when Simmons was placed on the injured list July 28, never found a groove at the plate. The switch-hitter batted .157 with nine walks over 18 games. He enjoyed some relief when he bashed a home run 422 feet Tuesday. The solo shot to left field nearly reached the train tracks that are about 90 feet above the field at Minute Maid Park.
— Left-hander Andrew Heaney enjoyed a bounce-back Friday, pitching 7 2/3 innings in which he gave up one run, four hits and two walks. Aided by a dominant three-pitch mix, he struck out 10 and drew misses on 23 swings.
— Slumping Justin Upton also was key. He had three hits in his first three at-bats, including a double with one out in the second inning. Upton entered the game riding a season-long slump. He had one hit in his last 22 at-bats. Upton’s RBI single in the sixth gave the Angels a 2-1 lead.
— With a runner on second and two outs, Albert Pujols lined a ground-rule double to left in the sixth inning to tie George Brett for sixth on the all-time list with 665 doubles. The hit scored Shohei Ohtani, who had stolen second.
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