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On his own bobblehead night, Kole Calhoun propels Angels to gutsy 5-4 win over A's

This was a slobberknocker; a back and forth affair worth of any division rivals in the MLB. Mike Trout would have three hits, including a home run, but it was Kole Calhoun's bobblehead night and he was NOT going to be upstaged.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Angels 5  Athletics 4

The Angels are hosting division rival Oakland Athletics this weekend, and while the A’s are a bottom feeder team in the AL West right now, they’ve proven in the past they can be quite the pests when they roll into Anaheim. The division is too close to even let up a tad on these games, so the Halos had to come out ready to fight for another series win if they wanted to keep in arm’s length of first place.

Jesse Chavez was pitching for the Athletics, and the Angels drew first blood  in the second inning when Johnny Giavotella hit a double down the right field line, and was then knocked home by Efren Navarro. It all happened in such quick succession that if you just went to the kitchen to grab a drink, you’d have missed it all. It’s good to see the bottom of the order guys getting more and more comfy. Navarro also had a nifty play in left field, running down a deep liner. Not too shabby for a first baseman.

Hector Santiago started the game pitching almost flawlessly in the first 3 ⅔ innings. But in the fourth, that all came to an abrupt end, as he made his first mistake pitch to Brett Lawrie, who parked it in the left field bullpen. Hector had been really working his slider and curve tonight, getting some gorgeous movement on the ball and locking up a few hitters, but he attempted to go inside on Lawrie and paid the price of it. To compound things, Oakland catcher Josh Phegley immediately followed with a homer of his own,this time  to left center. Santiago would actually settle down after that, holding the score and only getting pulled in the sixth when he allowed a man on and faced Phegley once again. A good outing for Hector with just a couple mistakes, albeit home run mistakes. But they were only solo shots, and with Cam Bedrosian coming in, the Angels were only down 2-1.

In the sixth, the Halos countered back, and things got heated. The inning started with three straight hits: a single by Mike Trout, a double off the left center wall for Pujols, and then a single up the middle by Kole Calhoun. The Calhoun single would score both Trout and Pujols, and on his bobblehead night, The Red Baron bagged a couple RBI and gave his team a 3-2 lead. With the crowd already rocking, Johnny Giavotella hit what should have been an infield single, but he was called out by the first base ump. The Angels lost a challenge earlier in the game, so were not able to get a second look at it. Regardless, an incensed Mike Scioscia raced to confront the blue, and was summarily tossed from the game. The crowd went wild; this was Mike’s first ejection of the year and he made it count. There was a true sense of emotion coming from the crowd at that moment, and while under dubious circumstances, it’s a welcome change from the library aesthetic the Big A has had of late.

Life in the driver’s seat would be short for the Angels, as the A’s would slug back in the seventh. With Fernando Salas on the mound in relief, Josh Reddick hit a two-run homer to right field, putting the Angels back in a one-run hole; this time 4-3. It’s been brought up on Halos Heaven before, but tonight was a staggering reminder of how bad and/or unlucky the Angels get with two outs. Not only did the Reddick home run come with two outs for Salas, but the Lawrie and Phegley homers from earlier did, too. If the pitching staff could do better with two outs, and finish innings strong, they’d be closer to staking their claim as AL West leaders. Emphasis on the "if".

There were more fireworks in store, though, as this was a genuine summer thrill ride of a game. In the eighth inning, Angels still down one run, Mike Trout came in and drilled a no doubter to the center field batter’s eye off of Oakland reliever Evan Scribner. This tied up the game, and also tied Mike Trout with Nelson Cruz for AL home run leader. Not to be outshined on his own vaunted bobblehead night, Kole Calhoun hit a solo blast of his own to the Calhoun Pun Section of Angel stadium, giving the Angels a 5-4 lead and sending their dugout into sublime jubilation. This game was a doozy, and this inning was just an escalation of all the baseball mayhem that preceded it. It was beautiful.

Huston Street would eventually come in and close down the ninth, per usual,reliever Jose Alvarez would get the win, and the Halos would get a gutsy, never-say-die victory against a long standing foe. It was one of, if not THE, most exciting game of the season; the back and forth trading of deep blows and clutch base knocks, and interspersed with a fiery ejection. The Angels take game one of the series, a flat out slugfest, and did so with emotion, excitement, longballs, bloopers and fearlessness; that’s what  we miss seeing in our guys. That’s what we’d pay any price to go see in person. When they’re playing like this, we could watch them forever. Here’s to them keeping this spirit alive.