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Angels feeding off red-hot Luis Rengifo ahead of Twins series

The Los Angeles Angels will host the Minnesota Twins Friday night in Anaheim, Calif., hoping to begin a six-game homestand by building off their just-completed sweep of the Oakland Athletics.

The Angels are just 10-10 since the All-Star break. Any success they have had has much to do with the emergence of infielder Luis Rengifo.

Rengifo, nearly traded to the Dodgers a couple years ago, began the season at Triple-A Salt Lake but was called up May 8 and has stuck with the big league team.

He’s versatile defensively — he’s played second base, third, shortstop and both corner outfield spots — but his biggest contribution has come at the plate.

Rengifo, 25, has been especially productive of late. Since the All-Star break, he has hit safely in 16 of 20 games, and has more hits (24-17), more extra-base hits (10-9) and more RBIs (12-10) than Shohei Ohtani. Rengifo is hitting .293 with an .801 OPS since the break.

“He’s been a shot in the arm for us,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “His energy and his work ethic, guys feed off that. You’re seeing him in the cage and putting in the work. You love having him out there. He wasn’t here to start the season but it’s just a credit to him and what he’s done. He’s put in the work.”

Originally from Venezuela, Rengifo came to the Angels in 2018 as the “player to be named later” in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for first baseman C.J. Cron. Overall this season, Rengifo is hitting .269 with a .725 OPS and 25 extra-base hits — putting him on pace to set career highs in each category.

“I feel like I have more experience,” Rengifo said of his improvements. “I talk to the guys a lot and I’ve made some adjustments. I’ve been happy with the results.”

Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (3-7, 3.41 ERA) will make his 19th start of the season for the Angels.

He hasn’t won in his last 11 starts dating back to May 22, but he’s coming off a solid performance his last time out. He held the Seattle Mariners scoreless on three hits in 5 1/3 innings last Friday, getting a no-decision in a 4-3 Angels victory.

Sandoval has faced the Twins once in his career and had one of the best starts against them.

On July 24, 2021, Sandoval took a no-hitter into the ninth inning but lost it on a one-out double by Brent Rooker. Sandoval got the second out of the inning but was replaced by closer Raisel Iglesias, who gave up an RBI double to Josh Donaldson — a run charged to Sandoval. In all, Sandoval gave up one run and one hit in 8 2/3 innings, striking out 13 and walking one.

Right-hander Tyler Mahle (5-7, 4.49 ERA) will make his 21st start of the season for Minnesota, coming off a no-decision his last time out against Toronto.

Mahle has faced the Angels once in his career, receiving the loss on June 25, 2019 after allowing four runs and six hits in five innings when pitching for the Cincinnati Reds.

The Twins are coming off being swept in a two-game series against the Dodgers and have fallen out of first place in the American League Central, but Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said it isn’t a reason to panic.

“I think thinking too much about the postseason or anything going on later this month, next month and especially October, that’s a lot of thinking, and we have a lot of doing that we need to do and get done,” Baldelli said. “So again, there’s nothing really else on our minds besides this Friday, getting back out there and winning a ballgame.”

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