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Jun 28, 2024 4:31 am

Angels, facing Tigers, try to keep approach simple

Zach Neto

Zach Neto is surprising many with his power this season, becoming only the second shortstop in Los Angeles Angels history to hit at least 10 home runs before the All-Star break, joining Jim Fregosi.

However, when the Angels oppose the Detroit Tigers on Friday in Anaheim, Calif., Neto’s focus will not be on hitting home runs. Angels manager Ron Washington is making sure of that.

In the Wednesday game against the Oakland A’s, Neto struck out and popped out in his first two at-bats, then went to the iPad in an effort to figure out what adjustments he needed to make.

“I was frustrated early in the game with my at-bats and I looked at my iPad, but Wash came over and told me I wasn’t going to find the answer there,” Neto said. “He told me to tone (down) my swing and put the head on the ball and that I have enough power to drive the ball out of the ballpark or hit the ball hard. I took it into (the next) at-bat, and it just so happened to be the double.”

“The double” was a bases-clearing, three-run hit that was the key play in the Angels’ 5-2 victory. It was a case of Washington imposing an old-school approach to the game, using his eyes instead of analytics.

“What he showed me he could do is stop trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark and make contact,” Washington said. “I’d been talking to him about that all day. He was looking at his iPad and I said, ‘You’re not gonna find the answer there. All you keep doing is swinging and looking back at me. All you gotta do is put the head on the ball.’ And that’s what he did.”

Neto went 1-for-3 with a double, a run, a walk and a stolen base in the Angels’ 5-0 win over the Tigers on Thursday.

Angels right-hander Zach Plesac (1-1, 8.68 ERA) will hope for more production from Neto on Friday.

After spending the first 2 1/2 months of the season at Triple-A Salt Lake, Plesac got a win in his first major league start of the year on June 17 vs. the Milwaukee Brewers. However, he was rocked for six runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a loss on Saturday.

Plesac is 4-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 11 career starts vs. Detroit.

Right-hander Kenta Maeda (2-4, 6.00) will make his 14th start of the season for the Tigers. He is winless in his past five starts, posting a 6.38 ERA in that span.

Maeda owns a 2-4 record with a 4.41 ERA in seven career games (six starts) vs. the Angels. However, he hasn’t faced Los Angeles since 2021.

The Tigers’ offense ranks among the lower half of the league in nearly all offensive categories, and the Thursday loss marked the ninth time this season they were shut out. Riley Greene collected two of Detroit’s four hits, and the Tigers struck out eight times without drawing a walk.

“When you think about hitting in general, even when we score runs, somebody has had a bad day,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said, “and so we need the reverse. We’ve got to have somebody have a really good day in order to pick the team up with a big swing or a big hit. But you can’t just snap your fingers and do it. It’s about getting a good pitch to hit.”

–Field Level Media

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