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May 8, 2024 3:17 am

Kevin Pillar, Angels go for series win vs. Pirates

kevin pillar

After their new outfielder helped them snap out of an offensive funk, the Los Angeles Angels will look to secure their second series win this season when they meet the host Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday in the rubber match of a three-game set.

Kevin Pillar hit two home runs and tallied a career-high six RBIs as Los Angeles blanked Pittsburgh 9-0 on Tuesday after losing the series opener 4-1.

The left fielder’s explosive performance came exactly one week after the 35-year-old signed a one-year deal with Angels to bolster the team’s outfield depth. Los Angeles star center fielder Mike Trout is expected to miss up to three months after undergoing surgery for a torn left meniscus.

“I know my role here,” Pillar said. “Never really know when I’m gonna get a chance to play. I just try to stay ready.”

Pillar’s first home run for the Angels was a three-run shot in the fourth inning on Tuesday, a blast that provided him and his new club with a 3-0 lead and a much-needed jolt.

“At least when I’ve been here, we’ve been in pretty much every game,” Pillar said. “We just haven’t been able to come up with a big hit, and for me to do that, being on a new team, it feels good.”

Pillar tacked on a solo shot in the seventh inning and lined a two-run double in the eighth to punctuate his career night.

The nine-run outburst marked the second-most runs Los Angeles has scored in a game throughout a season that has quickly deteriorated.

The Angels entered Tuesday having lost 14 of their past 17 games after starting 9-9. They scored a total of three runs in a three-game skid just before the latest victory.

A win on Wednesday would give Los Angeles its first series victory since a road sweep of the Miami Marlins from April 1-3.

Los Angeles will deploy hard-throwing right-hander Jose Soriano (1-4, 3.77 ERA), who has never faced the Pirates.

Soriano made a promising stride amid his progression as a starting pitcher on Friday against the Cleveland Guardians.

The second-year pro tossed six shutout frames to earn his first career win as a starter after working strictly out of the Angels’ bullpen last season.

Veteran left-hander Martin Perez (1-2, 3.15 ERA) will pitch on Wednesday for Pittsburgh, which was outhit 15-3 on Tuesday in its second shutout loss within a week.

“We just didn’t play very well today overall,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.

Perez lost his most recent outing, on Friday against the visiting Colorado Rockies. He allowed three runs on a season-high eight hits over 5 1/3 innings.

The 33-year-old is 8-6 across 25 career appearances (20 starts) against Los Angeles, most coming as a member of the American League West rival Texas Rangers.

Pillar is 4-for-9 with a home run against Perez.

It is uncertain whether Pittsburgh shortstop Oneil Cruz will return to the lineup on Wednesday. Cruz, who leads the Pirates with five home runs, did not play Tuesday after he rolled his ankle on a base hit in the Monday game.

Shelton said Tuesday was a scheduled day off for Cruz, who already has played through ankle soreness this season.

“To Oneil’s credit, he’s pushing to play every day,” Shelton said, per pittsburghbaseballnow.com. “He’s had I think three instances in the past two weeks where … he’s rolled it and he’s pushed really hard to stay in the game.”

Alika Williams went 0-for-3 for Pittsburgh on Tuesday while filling in for Cruz at shortstop.

–Field Level Media

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