Losing two games in a row is not the way you want to be finishing an unreal, unexpectedly insane month of July, but that’s where the Angels found themselves today, after losing the final game of their Twins series, and now the first game of this weekend’s Rangers series. The team needed tonight’s game to be a stop gap; a safety measure from beginning an unignorable losing streak and to keep the team from showing signs that they’re getting a little winded. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t easy and Texas made sure to give their very best effort to put some doubt into the Halo fans’ minds.
The entire game was a back-and-forth affair, which proved to be both frustrating and wonderful at times, but at the end of the day, this was some exciting baseball to watch. Hector Santiago was on the mound for the Angels, and Yovani Gallardo was out for the Rangers, and neither one of them was able to fully control the other squad. Rougned Odor got to Hector first, hitting a homer in the first inning off of the all star lefty. This was the first homer allowed by Santiago since June 22, a feat that has beefed up his AB per HR numbers to gorgeous heights. Still, they will happen from time to time. The Rangers had a quick 1-0 lead, but it was squelched when Albert Pujols tied up the game on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the first.
In the second, Kole Calhoun would continue his freakish month and hit a two-run single, putting the Angels up on top 3-1. Here’s some good news: newly acquired 3B Conor Gillaspie already had a single from earlier in the game when he came to the plate in the third, and hit an RBI double in the left-center gap. Talk about ingratiating yourself with the fanbase, and quick.
Things were looking up, but the Angels would now get a taste of their own short-lived-lead medicine, as Rangers Ryan Rua and Robinson Chirinos each hit an RBI double in the fourth, closing the score to 4-3 Angels. In the fifth, a throwing error by Albert Pujols(trying to get an out at second with Erick Aybar) tied the game up at 4-4, and once again the Angels were gifting Texas a win in their own house.
The Angels punched back in the bottom of the fifth, though, as Erick Aybar singled home Albert Pujols. Then in the sixth, Johnny Giavotella lead off with a triple, and was then driven home by, yep, Kole Calhoun. 6-4 Halos, and they were already into their bullpen studs. Done deal, no? I wish.
A disastrous eighth was about the last thing the faithful fans in attendance and at home wanted to see, but that’s exactly what we got. Oh, the myriad ways in which they can hand a team a lead or a win. This time, it was just a rough outing from Joe Smith, as well as a bonehead play by Erick Aybar, that let the bad guys slip ahead. First, Shin-Soo Choo grounded out to Aybar, with a man on first and third, and instead of taking a double play, Aybar tried to throw for home, where the runner was safe and now their was a man on second. He most definitely should have taken the two outs, but instead got the Angels and Joe Smith into some hot water. Chirinos and Delino Deshields each got singles off of Smith, driving in runs, and all of a sudden we were in a 6-7 ballgame, the Rangers threatening to embarrass us in the Big A. Those three runs could have been a lot more, but Kole Calhoun did one of his patented, completely-laid-out diving catches, and added a hefty addition to his 2015 highlight reel. They made it out of the eighth, but now they’d be depending on dredging up a late-inning comeback or walk-off to save the day.
They would go down with a whimper in the eighth, so it all came down to the bottom of the ninth. Pure, unadulterated, baseball drama. Who was due up? Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. The big guns, ready to unleash some magic and memories to eyeballs across southern California and abroad. The Rangers had closer Shawn Tolleson on the bump, and we were ready to see something spectacular, or something spectacularly forgettable. It’s with great sadness that I report it was the latter. KC and Trout grounded out, Pujols got on base but that was followed by an Erick Aybar pop up that would end the game, and put the Angels in a three game skid. A bummer of a series, and yet another night of watching the Halos hand over a W, especially to the gross Rangers.
The Angels were 43-1 when leading after seven innings coming into tonight’s game. After tonight, that’s 43-2. Let’s not make it a trend, guys. And let’s keep those innings like tonight’s eighth to a strict minimum. That was just ugly. Good new: Houston lost to Kansas City, so we’re keeping pace with them. Hey, it’s something.