ANAHEIM – Derek Holland might be in the National League now, but if there is one thing he knows well it is pitching against the Los Angeles Angels.
The San Francisco Giants left-hander will make just his fourth start with his new team in his new league, but nothing will feel unfamiliar on Saturday evening in Anaheim. Holland’s 162 1/3 innings against the Angels, compiled mostly when he was a member of the Texas Rangers, is his most against any major league team.
His 10-8 record and 5.21 ERA in 28 appearances, including 25 starts, against the Angels shows that sometimes things went his way and often they didn’t. But he has something many of his current teammates don’t: a first-hand familiarity with the opponent.
Although these two clubs did meet in a memorable 2002 World Series, won by the Angels, they have just 29 games against each other in the regular season, with the Giants holding an 18-11 advantage. The most recent meeting came in the Giants’ 8-2 victory Friday night, but they last met in 2015 before that, with the Giants winning all three games.
In falling to the Giants in the series opener, the Angels are on their first losing stretch of the season. They were 13-3 when their current homestand started, but they are now on a four-game losing streak, having also been swept by the Red Sox this week.
In fact, the Angels were outscored 27-3 by the Red Sox in a three-game series, and adding in Friday’s loss to the Giants, opponents have toppled them by a 35-5 count in recent days.
“We haven’t done anything well,” Angels outfielder Justin Upton said Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You can’t win a baseball game when you don’t do anything well.”
The Giants were expressing the same type of frustration as recently as Friday afternoon. Funny what a convincing victory can do for the psyche. The Giants hit three home runs against the Angels on Friday, had a six-run fifth inning and generally looked like the Red Sox team that dismantled the Angels.
Newcomer Mac Williamson was added to the Giants’ roster to add some power, and he delivered with a home run in his second major league at-bat this season. Nick Hundley and Andrew McCutchen also hit home runs Friday.
“Hundley’s (home run) was awesome, but Mac’s was really awesome, kind of what he did for the locker room and the dugout; it was loud,” said Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who came off the disabled list Friday and won his first game of the year.
Holland (0-2, 4.60 ERA) will look for more of the same when it comes to run support. The Giants were walking tall late Friday despite the fact that they had scored one run or fewer in 10 of their 18 games before Friday.
But things can change quickly. The Angels were riding high as recently as Tuesday afternoon, but two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani went just two innings in his last start because of a blister, and on Thursday against the Red Sox, he was 0-for-4 at the plate with three strikeouts.
He rebounded against the Giants on Friday, going 2-for-4 for his fourth multi-hit game in nine starts as the designated hitter.
The Angels will go with right-hander Garrett Richards (2-0, 3.60) as their starter on Saturday. He won his last outing on April 14, giving up one run and one hit while striking out five and walking three over five innings in a 5-3 victory over the Royals.
Richards has never faced the Giants.