Angels 7 Twins 0
For the first time in 2015, there would be no Mike Trout in the Angels lineup. Trout woke up with a soreness in his heel, and while it was already feeling quite better after some treatment today, he was given the day off to rest. Perhaps he needed it, not getting much rest during the all star break, but Albert Pujols was also supposed to be given a breather, leaving the Halos without their two biggest weapons. But once it was found out that there would be no Trout, Pujols penciled himself into the three hole...of course, the rest of the squad were out to prove that they can get stuff done when called upon, and they commenced to putting on a show against the visiting Minnesota Twins. No Trout, no problem.
As far as Matt Shoemaker knows, this was his last start to prove that he doesn't belong in the bullpen; with Mike Scioscia announcing that Andrew Heaney wasn't going anywhere, it may be a foregone conclusion that Shoemaker is headed to the bullpen, but that doesn't mean he has to do so quietly. He pitched like someone on a mission, taking his recent success(a 2.43 ERA in his last 5 home starts) and amplifying it into a muscular, economical outing where his splitter was not to be trifled with and his command was si magnifique! Shoemaker ended up going six innings, giving up just two hits and striking out a career high-tying 10 Ks. Since 7/22, Shoemaker now has an ERA of 4.54, which is exactly his ERA at this point in the season last year. From the end of July til mid-September, he'd put up an ERA of 1.49; could he just now be hitting his stride? I'll feel for Matt if/when he gets relegated to a bullpen spot, because he's really tightened things up in his last 4-5 starts, and he can get the Ws win he gets the run support. There is still plenty of mystifying stuff left in The Bearded One, he's just going to have to sit tight and make the most of his shots from now on. Tonight tells me he can do just that.
While facing Twins starter Kyle Gibson, people like Chris Iannetta(RBI single in the second) and Erick Aybar(sac fly in the third) were getting the timely hits needed for rallies, but in both instances, the innings were abruptly cut short by bonehead base running gaffes. It seemed like another night where you cringed while thinking about how once again, Matt Shoemaker would not get much run support, and he'd have to be perfect. That tune changed in the sixth, when the Angels piled on some runs against not only Gibson, but also reliever Blaine Boyer. David Freese drove in a run on a single, and then Matt Joyce was able to contribute, albeit by a sac fly to center field. Still, it gave the Angels a 4-0 lead at that point, they had gotten to the Twins' bullpen, and some of the pressure of the non-Pujols/Trout portion of the Angels roster breathed a sigh of relief. That sigh became an audible burst of screaming and hollering one batter later, as Chris Iannetta delivered once again, this time with a coup de grace, 3-run jack to left center. Talk about a confidence booster for a group of guys that had us fans screaming "...but that run differential" just 6-8 weeks ago. Freese and Aybar helping out, C.J. Cron having a four hit night, and Iannetta driving in four runs. Give me more of that, please.
The Angels took their 7-0 lead into the ninth, where Jose Alvarez shut down Minnesota, and just like that, the Angels won their sixth in a row, and moved to 13 games over .500. This was also the first time Matt Shoemaker would get a win at home this season, and it's a long time coming. They've now won 16 out of their last 19, outscoring their opponents 108-44 since June 27th. The momentum has obviously turned, and the run differential pendulum has swung violently in the opposite direction. Rocking and rolling, this team is riding the gravy train right now, and making it look effortless. They're running pure, and sending teams running scared. It's a good time to be an Angels fan.