The Angels came into today’s game fresh from a day off, and ready to take on last place Seattle Mariners. Matt Shoemaker was on the hill for the Halos, and the young Taijuan Walker for the visiting squad. Walker is an intriguing 22 year old who had a tough start to the season, but in his last 4-5 starts, he’s been pretty much lights out. The Big A also said hello to Mark Trumbo for the first time since he was traded to Arizona, and he got quite the warm welcome his first time up to the plate. On top of everything, it was Christmas in June night at the stadium, so there was a general sense of holiday-tinged confusion and joy sweeping the ballpark. It was nice to see, but once the game got going, the pleasantries of the evening and even the beautiful game time weather would be no match for the sting of watching another frustrating Angels baseball game.
The Angels provided a couple amazing highlight plays in this game early on, the first being Mike Trout’s monster homer in the bottom of the first. It was an extremely hard hit ball to right-center; in fact, it came off the bat at 110 mph and traveled 415 feet. He tested Taijuan early and gave that pill a ride it wont soon forget. The other outburst of oohs-and-ahhs-inspiring Angels baseball came from an absolutely filthy play from Erick Aybar at short. On a ball hit between third and short, Aybar made a great stop while running to stop it, had to make a completely off-balance throw back to first, and it was then perfectly scooped by Albert Pujols. It was a close play, and while they umps took a look at it, the out call would stand.
Shoemaker looked much improved upon from his last outings, and held the Mariners scoreless through the first four innings, inducing 10 outs on 9 ground balls over the stretch. It wasn’t until the fifth inning when he got into a little trouble, allowing an RBI double to Brad Miller. In the sixth, he would give up another double, this time to Nelson Cruz, making the score 2-1. Shoemaker would eventually work his way out of that inning, but would eventually get knocked out in the seventh after letting a man on base. All in all, Shoemaker looked quite on point tonight, albeit against a last place team. There may not be an Angel i’m pulling for at the moment more than The Cobbler, so let’s hope he keeps this trajectory.
In the 8th, reliever Fernando Salas gave up a solo homer to Robinson Cano, and the 3-1 lead became the all-too-familiar harbinger of our calculable offensive dearth. Fans watching at the stadium and at home all suddenly snapped back into reality, realizing we’re watching another one of these close games where I pitcher ought to be perfect, or he will be walking away a loser. Taijuan Walker may be hot as of late, but the Angels got seven hits off of him, and threatened more than once. They just couldn’t take advantage of the precious few opportunities given, including a first and second situation, one out, in the eighth that saw everything end with a Johnny Giavotella GIDP. Sounds about right. It would be tragic if it we weren’t so disciplined in this type of Scioscialist-era failure.
The good news: Mike Trout had a great game, getting a couple other hits beside the jaw-dropping homer...Taylor Featherston got another hit...the Angels signed draft pick Dalton Blumenfeld, a catcher who carries around a big bat. The bad news: Erick Aybar left the game with a hamstring tightness. Oh, and the Angels lost, and with Houston losing to the Yankees, they missed out on gaining a game.