I suppose if the offensive onslaught as of late were to come to an end, it would be when Matt Shoemaker was pitching for the Angels. The bearded righty has pitched well in his last few outings, but in four out of his last five starts, the Halos have failed to score more than two runs. That’s rough, but tonight there were hopes in the thin, mountain air that the balls would continue to fly as they have the past four games. Especially since Jered Weaver’s return is imminent, and you know there is a pitcher that’s going to get uprooted. Shoemaker would have to show his stuff.
Mike Trout remained infatuated with the Coors Field launching pad today, as he got things started with a solo home run to left field in the first inning. This was his 23rd on the season, and was an absolute no-doubter right off the bat. The rest of the team, however, was having issues with Rockies starter Chris Rusin, and only getting the odd single here or there. In fact, after that Mike Trout homer, the Angels wouldn’t score again until the sixth inning. Couple those scoreless sides with the fact that they were shut down from the fourth and on last night, and the series’ seemingly lopsided nature becomes diminished.
Colorado wasn’t having an easy time with Matt Shoemaker, though, as he pitched 5.2 innings and gave up just two runs, both in a fourth inning that got out of hand quickly. That was the low point of his start, but he would come back in the game(and draw a four pitch walk in the fifth!) and end up eating up some more outs, while the Angels trailed 2-1.
The top of the sixth had Mike Trout going yard yet again, this time a 465 ft bomb to left center that was completely crushed off the bat. This one tracked at 114 mph, so not quite as hard as last night’s, but it looked and sounded just as pretty. The homer, which came on a 3-1 count(second time this year he’s gone yard on 3-1), tied the game 2-2 and we were once again witnessing Trout single-handedly carry this team on his back.
In the bottom of the sixth, with the game tied, runner at third, and two outs, Shoemaker was pulled for Cesar Ramos, who was quickly able to induce a lineout and it ended the threat. So again, we have The Cobbler throwing good for the evening, but coming up empty in the W column and the Angels struggling to put runs on the board. Hard luck, but I’m sure the coaches are happy with the bounceback he’s shown over his last three starts.
The game settled into that cozy 2-2 score for what seemed like an eternity, most likely because the game was already going late because of the rain delay, but the Angels managed to get something going in the top of the ninth. With one out, David Freese got a single off of Rockies reliever John Axford, and was then pulled for pinch runner Taylor Featherston. Chris Iannetta then hit a nice double down the left field line, putting runners at second and third. Daniel Robertson was intentionally walked to load the bases, and after an Efren Navarro strike out, the Angels were down to one out. Up to the plate was Little Italy, Johnny Giavotella...the cold blooded second baseman who has clutch hit after clutch hit this season. And tonight, he didn’t disappoint. Giavotella hit a single through the left side and the go ahead run crossed the plate. The Angels had a 3-2 lead, once again at the hands of the man who replaced our beloved Howie Kendrick; the same man that we have fallen in love with this season, especially when the game was on the line. Johnny Giavotella is a folk hero.
Huston Street got up in the ninth, and was looking for save number 24, but he’d have to go through the heart of the Rockies lineup to do so. It wasn’t the prettiest Street save we’ve seen, as he allowed a hit and intentionally walked another, but he got the final out, his 24th save and the Angels won their fifth game in a row. The Halos now sit just 1.5 games back in the AL West, and they’re doing what good teams do, which is take advantage of the weaker teams. They haven’t been beating potential champions in Texas or Colorado, but this is how you rack up wins, and just mere weeks ago they were having dispatching even the lowliest of cellar dwellers. No more, though, and they are riding their best stretch of baseball into a series in Seattle, starting with King Felix. They are winning, and they’re winning with what they’ve got. Gimme gimme gimme; I need some more.