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Catch And Release: Angels Walk-Off 2-1 After 11 Innings

Mike Trout will beat you even without his bat.

Someone is not going to make it home in time for dinner tonight.
Someone is not going to make it home in time for dinner tonight.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Thus begins the reign of mayhem.

This game delivered both excitement and frustration, but in the end, it was more one than the other. Now it's even hard to remember anything that happened before the top of the 11th inning, when Mike Trout charged after a deadly-looking flare to center, caught it, then gunned down Carlos Gonzalez at the plate, ending both the threat and the inning. Of course, the umpire blew the call, but after a suspenseful moment, got overruled by the replay official. It was the first time I've witnessed a truly game-changing play actually corrected in real time.

Building on an auspicious start to the season, Hector Santiago recorded his finest outing yet: 1 ER, 8 K, 0 BB, 7 H in 6.0 IP. Mike Morin, Joe Smith, Huston Street, and Fernando Salas did even better. Angels pitchers combined to strike out 14 Rockies while walking none. Cesar Ramos got into trouble, leading off the 11th with a single and then wild-pitching the runner over twice (Carlos Perez botched both of the blocks), but Trout bailed him out of it.

Meanwhile, the Angels are so desperate for offense that their new approach to taking out the opposing starter seems to be literally taking him out. With two outs in the first, Albert Pujols smashed a liner right off Jordan Lyle's hand, the one he throws baseballs with. He was immediately taken out of the game with some gnarly bruising already visible near the wrist. Fortunately, the Rockies are reporting that Lyle is otherwise okay. Unfortunately, Pujols still made an out.

Ironically, Pujols also made an out to end the game. CJ Cron started the bottom of the 11th with a single, and Kole Calhoun hit a very long single to make it first and third. Intentional walk for Trout, and a pop-up for Albert, but deep enough for Taylor Featherston to tag from third. Game. Over.

Three wins in a row brings the Angels back to .500, which is good enough for second in the upside-down AL West standings right now. Surprisingly, they've allowed fewer runs than any team in the American League. Also surprisingly, they've scored fewer runs than any team in the American League except Chicago. It's currently 125 scored to 124 allowed, so Pythagoras wins again.

As a side note, Trout has never earned any respect for his throwing arm. The scouts, the metrics, and even the fan reports have all rated his accuracy as tolerable and his strength as insufficient. Obviously one play is not going to reverse all of that because of the game context. But if Mike Trout is only a four-tool player, what he has is a bulldozer, a jackhammer, a pneumatic drill, and a sandblaster. He's just missing the tweezers.