Tonight kicked off the second half of the season, with the Angels sitting pretty in first place, but it also kicked off a wraparound series with the reviled Boston Red Sox. The Pink Hat Nation was out in full force, filling the Anaheim ether win their trademarked, petulant din. C.J. Wilson would face off against Boston starter Wade Miley, and either these two guys are honest-to-goodness, world-beating aces, or both teams were still shaking off the rust and extra helpings of junk food and cigar smoke accrued over the recent All Star break. Perhaps it was a little bit of both...if only for one night. Either way, the Angels faithful and the Sux pitiful would be in for a textbook pitcher’s duel.
So, about that pitching. C.J. Wilson looked Head and Shoulders™ above most other big leaguers taking the mound tonight, as he wound up going eight innings, giving up 5 hits and zero runs. Wilson was barely the nibbling machine we’ve come to bemoan from time to time, instead he was excelling in throwing strikes and getting the most out of some diminishing stuff, while inducing ground ball and fly outs galore. I’ll put his performance in other, more relatable terms for any Angels fan: Wilson not only made it to the 8th, but he did so with just 111 pitches. C.J. can often use that many pitches just to get to the sixth, so the efficiency was there.
Wade Miley, to his credit, was also pretty good this evening, taking a perfect game into the sixth inning, baffling Angels batter after Angels batter. It definitely looked like a lineup we’ve seen before; one that we thought, hoped and/or dreamed was completely gone and washed out of existence. Again, you hope that this is just some post-break, slow start simmer and not anything indicative of what we’re going to have to endure(again) in the coming months, or that Miley was just THAT good tonight. He finally allowed a man on base when, in the sixth, Chris Iannetta drew a walk. In the seventh, Kole Calhoun would lead off with a double, finally getting a hit on Miley’s dime. Miley would go into the eighth, allowing a man on and giving the Angels some hope, but while they suddenly found themselves with base runners, they would not be able to capitalize on them. Familiarity breeds contempt...but I have a feeling these type of missed opportunities would have me feeling contemptuous no matter their familiarity or frequency.
If the Angels wanted to win the game before heading into extras, they’d have to depend on Johnny Giavotella, Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout in the ninth. Giavotella and Calhoun would go down quickly against reliever Koji Uehara, but then the fanfare began blasting out of nowhere, trumpets heralding the arrival of a superman. A hero. Mike Trout. In a week when the baseball world breathlessly talked about the greatness that is Mike Trout and his All Star legacy, it’s only fitting that the young phenom would up the stakes in his first game back from vacation. Yes, Mike Trout took a ball deep, deep, deep into the rock pile, in the ninth inning with two outs, and gave the Angels a 1-0 victory on a walkoff home run.
He is everything that is good in life, personified, given muscles and a bat and told to go out and destroy our baseball enemies. And there is no greater bane of the Halo experience than the Boston Red Sox, so the gutshot received by all the Pink Nation losers was about as good as baseball gets, and you could hear the wind come out of their obnoxious sails. Glorious. Mike Trout is not human. He is unflappable, infallible, invincible and incredible. And he’s ours.