If you thought yesterday was a classic, well-pitched, low scoring affair for the Angels, then today’s game was it’s boundary-pushing, blockbuster sequel. The name of the game was hot arms and cold bats, and featured some sweet Ace-On-Ace action in Hector Santiago vs. Felix Hernandez. As the blazing Summer sun got fans sweating, sweltering and squirming, the Angels did their best to win two in a row and take the series.
Hernandez and Santiago were lights out while they were on the field today, and kept things rather uneventful on the offensive side. Nelson Cruz had an RBI double in the fourth off of Hector, and the score remained 1-0 for a good chunk of the game. It wasn’t until the bottom of the seventh, with Hernandez done for the day, that the Angels scored with the following series of events: David Freese hit by pitch; Kyle Kubitza pinch runs and gets to second on passed ball and third on a sac bunt; Erick Aybar gets a pinch hit RBI single off of reliever Mark Lowe. With the game tied 1-1, Santiago was pulled for Joe Smith in the eighth. Santiago finished with 7 IP, 3 H, 1 run and 6 Ks, and King Felix finished with 6 IP, 1 hit and 0 runs. A pitcher’s duel if I’ve ever seen one.
The Angels would strike in the eighth, as Carson Smith took the mound for Seattle. Upstart Taylor Featherston got things rocking and rolling with a single, then advanced on a Johnny Giavotella sac bunt. Kole Calhoun decided he’d play The Hero, and hit a nice single into shallow center field that scored Featherston, and put the Angels on top 2-1.
Huston Street came into the ninth, one night removed from making things way more nerve racking than they needed to be, and was set up to face Cano, Cruz and Kyle Seager. He sliced through Cano and Cruz, but with two outs, he allowed a solo home run to Seager to right field, and tying the game 2-2. The following batter quickly popped up and ended the inning, but the damage was done. Street has had some ugly outings this season, and this makes two in a row. Ironic that it happened minutes after Gubicza and Rojas waxed on about his possible All Star roster selection. In the bottom of the inning, the Angels would threaten to win after Efren Navarro doubled, then got to third on a wild pitch, but Taylor Featherston grounded out and we went to extras for the second time this week.
In the bottom of the tenth, the Angels were NOT messing around. Folk Hero Johnny Giavotella lead things off with an infield single, then on a hit-and-run, he made it to third on a Kole Calhoun single. Mike Trout was intentionally walked, and with the bases loaded and no outs, Albert Pujols came to the plate...and hit into a 6-2-3 double play. The inning was not over, though, and the Halos still had a man on third. The Angels would need a hero, and up stepped Kyle Kubitza. Of course, Kubitza didn’t even have an opportunity to be clutch, because Seattle reliever Tom Wilhelmsen over threw a pitch that went right past catcher Mike Zunino, and Kole Calhoun raced home and crossed the plate. Walk off wild pitch, Angels win 3-2 and take another series of this home stand. Not the prettiest way to win a game, and they’ve made a habit of ugly wins lately, but as a fan, i’ll take what I can get.
So it wasn’t that triumphant of a way to win an extra inning game, or a series against a divison rival, but the guys did come through when it counted and to be fair, the Angels faced a very dominant outing from Hernandez. Meanwhile, we know Mike Trout is an All Star, and Pujols has made his case, but the REAL All Star rallying cry should be around Hector Santiago, who continues to make opponents look lifeless and stymied. His ERA continues to drop, and if it weren’t for the disappearing act the offense plays from time to time, he might have a more attractive W-L column. Still, Hector has been The Man this year and I love pulling for the guy. Home stand continues tomorrow, as the Angels host the Yankees. Keep the train rolling.