Ben Joyce debuts with impressive inning in Angels victory over White Sox

Tribune Content Agency

CHICAGO — The gift Angels fans have been waiting to open did not disappoint.

Right-hander Ben Joyce, who famously threw a 105 mph fastball in college last year, lit up the radar gun in a scoreless inning in his big league debut, helping the Angels to a 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.

The Angels, who snapped a three-game losing streak, also got six strong innings from Griffin Canning and homers from Brandon Drury and Matt Thaiss.

Joyce, however, was the featured attraction on this night.

The first pitcher from the 2022 draft to reach the majors, Joyce was promoted from Double-A on Sunday because the Angels put Matt Moore on the injured list.

The Angels likely hoped for a low-leverage spot to get him into a game for the first time, but circumstances led manager Phil Nevin to use Joyce to protect a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning.

Joyce gave up a single to the first hitter he faced, but then he recorded two strikeouts and a flyout.

Joyce threw 12 pitches, and all 11 of the fastballs were over 100 mph. The hit he gave up was on an 89.3 mph cutter. He topped out at 102.2 mph. White Sox hitters whiffed at three of their five swings against his fastball. Although Joyce had control issues at the University of Tennessee and in the Angels’ farm system, he threw 10 of his 12 pitches for strikes in his debut.

After Joyce was done, right-hander Chris Devenski worked a perfect eighth. Closer Carlos Estévez gave up a homer in the ninth, but still recording his 13th save in 13 tries. He’s the first Angels pitcher to start a season with 13 straight successful save opportunities since Troy Percival converted his first 16 in 2001.

That locked up the victory for Canning, who gave up three runs. Two of them came on solo homers from Andrew Vaughn in the fourth and Romy Gonzalez in the fifth.

Otherwise, Canning was sharp. He struck out nine — one shy of his career high — and he did not walk a batter. Overall, Canning threw 64 of his 87 pitches for strike, a career-best 73.5%.

In eight starts since coming back from a season and a half lost to a back injury, Canning has a 4.89 ERA, including a 2.95 mark in his last three games.

Canning had a four-run lead before he threw his first pitch, thanks to a Drury three-run homer and a Thaiss solo homer in the top of the first inning.

After that, the Angels’ bats went cold until the eighth inning, when they pushed across two insurance runs.

The first run was manufactured when Thaiss singled, stole second, took third on a grounder and scored on a sacrifice fly. Mickey Moniak then dropped a bloop double down the left field line and Mike Trout drove in the second run with a single that popped out of the glove of leaping shortstop Tim Anderson.