Major League Baseball

Angels’ Tropeano set to return vs. streaking A’s

mlb7ANGELS (24-29) AT ATHLETICS (29-25)
10:07 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, FS-W, MLB.TV

Right-hander Nick Tropeano, who will make his season debut for the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, hopes he still has the magic touch against the Oakland Athletics that he possessed before sustaining a shoulder injury.

Manager Brad Ausmus announced Monday after the Angels’ 8-5 loss to the A’s that Tropeano would be summoned from an injury-rehab stint in the minors to pitch in the second game of the three-game series.

Tropeano, a 28-year-old who hasn’t thrown in the majors since last Aug. 6 because of pain in his right shoulder, will follow an “opener” on Tuesday, Ausmus disclosed. However, Ausmus wouldn’t reveal the identity of his starting pitcher.

The one-day-at-a-time approach was consistent with having used Monday’s scheduled starter in relief on Sunday to help nail down a win over the Texas Rangers. That game featured Andrew Heaney’s first big-league appearance of the season.

Heaney, returning from an elbow ailment, allowed two runs over five innings on Sunday. Felix Pena, who was due to start Monday at Oakland, instead tossed one scoreless inning in the finale against Texas, walking one batter but striking out the side.

“We’re gonna have to figure out the starting rotation moving forward,” Ausmus admitted Sunday of his long-term plan. “But the only thing we can control is today’s game.”

Tropeano spent the first two months of the 2019 season rehabbing and making five minor league starts, during which he posted an unimpressive 7.66 ERA for Triple-A Salt Lake.

However, he has been almost untouchable in his career against the A’s, the majors’ hottest team, which is riding a 10-game winning streak.

Tropeano has faced the A’s three times in his career, going 3-0 and producing a 0.51 ERA.

One of those starts came in Oakland, where he blanked the A’s on six hits over five innings in 2016.

The only current member of the A’s to have a hit in his career against Tropeano is shortstop Marcus Semien, and he’s just 1-for-7. The rest of the Oakland batters are a combined 0-for-8 vs. Tropeano.

One batter he has never faced is A’s catcher Josh Phegley, who continued a torrid stretch Monday with a go-ahead home run in the fifth inning.

The homer was Phegley’s third in his last eight games, a stretch during which he has driven in 10 runs.

“He’s putting up All-Star-like numbers in the 9-hole, which is pretty crazy,” A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after benefitting from Phegley’s offense over the weekend. “The energy he brings … He’s playing well. We saw it in spurts the last couple of years. But getting the chance to be the everyday guy pretty much, he’s been phenomenal at the back end of our lineup, a kind of stalwart, so it’s fun to see.”

Now halfway to the franchise record of 20 wins that was a focal point of the “Moneyball” movie, the A’s will attempt to trump Tropeano’s return with a start from their hottest pitcher, right-hander Frankie Montas (6-2, 2.40 ERA).

The 26-year-old won his first start of the season against the Angels on March 31, limiting the visitors to three hits and one run in six innings in a 2-1 win.

Montas since has registered four more starts with one or no earned runs allowed, including six shutout innings last Wednesday at Cleveland.

Montas has faced the Angels four times in his career, only once as a starter, and he is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA.

His most troublesome opponent is one with whom the A’s struggled Monday. Kole Calhoun had a double and a home run in the March head-to-head this season, making him 4-for-6 against Montas in his career.

Calhoun had two doubles and a walk, scored a run and drove in another Monday in the Angels’ loss.

–Field Level Media

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