Another night, another pitching duel. Another excellent Matt Shoemaker start, but it happened while playing against another excellent pitcher….again...as if it’s some daily occurrence now that the Angels MUST play against top notch pitchers, or else the game would be called a forfeit. The Indians shouldn’t be this hard to take down, especially for a team that has Mike Trout. I mean, he almost single-handedly beat the Dodgers and Zack Greinke a few days ago. But nope...nothing comes wrapped up nicely, with a bow and a well-written card, to this club these days. The Hands of Fate of Baseball, shouting loud enough for everybody in the stadium to hear: Making the playoffs is going to be a rough, winding road. Who knew that road included a pesky Cleveland Indians team?
To say Matt Shoemaker has been on fire lately would be akin to announcing to the world "Hello, I horribly understate things!". Matt Shoemaker has put together an incredibly bewitching, beautiful and stupefying six straight starts. Yes, that’s including tonight, where he went six formidable innings, striking out 10 batters and giving up zero runs. That tally, added to the previous five starts, would give him 34 Ks, 10 walks, 6 ER and dropped his ERA down to 4.01. Just like last season, it seems, he is getting into an unruly groove in the second half, and is making us fall in love with that luxurious beard all over again(as if we ever fell OUT in the first place). Whatever your opinion is on the C.J. Wilson injury, it’s undeniable that it worked out quite well, as it keeps Shoemaker out of the pen and in the starting rotation once Jered Weaver comes back(Weaver had a good night in the Inland Empire tonight, fyi. Could be back soon).
The Angels had their hands full on their end, with the superb Carlos Carrasco on the hill for the Indians. He was unequivocally dominating the Angels for the first few innings, making them look hapless in the process. That’s not so much an indictment of the Halos, though. He’s been amazing as of late, and counting from his last start, he had retired 27 batters in a row until Mike Trout got a walk in the fourth. That was it...four innings and a lousy walk. David Murphy, L.A. newcomer facing his old squad, would thankfully break up the no-hitter in the fifth with a single to center field. Of course, that inning lead nowhere and Carrasco went right back to dealing.
After the sixth, with Shoemaker having expertly done his duties for the evening, Mike Scioscia gave the ball to the bullpen. Trevor Gott took the seventh, back in his regular role saddle, and was perfect in the side. Joe Smith came on in the eight, gave up one hit and one walk, but got out of it without any damage done, and Huston Street made quick work of Cleveland in the ninth. It was going to take a walk off to take down Carlos Carrasco and the Indians.
That didn’t happen.
No. Instead, the Angels got smoked like an American Spirit in the ninth. Johnny Giavotella got on via HBP, and was moved over by a Shane Victorino sac bunt, but the Angels shriveled up after that and Carrasco’s night was punctuated by a third out, swinging K to Kole Calhoun. Brutal. Extra baseball it is.
Jose Alvarez totally killed it(in a good way) in the top of the tenth, with a little help from a snazzy, heads up fielder’s choice hookup from Erick Aybar. With a man on second, Jose Ramirez hit a grounder deep into the hole at short stop, an impossible play at first, but Aybar was smart enough to go to third just in time to get an advancing Giovanny Urshela. Nifty. In the bottom of the tenth, the meat of the order, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, did jack. They should have hit jacks.
Alvarez was back out in the top of the 11th, and he got a nice double play and a strikeout to glide him through it. In the bottom of the inning, the Indians were already two deep into the 'pen, and Aybar, Conor Gillaspie and Giavotella were next up for role BodyArmor Bath Recipient. They blew it.
The 12th had Cam Bedrosian taking the mound, and that's always an exciting proposal. Just weeks ago I was watching him blow up a AAA game vs. the Las Vegas 51s, and now he's in an extra inning game, expected to keep Cleveland at bay. How did that go??!?!?! DOES MY PUNCTUATION AND CAPITALIZATION GIVE THE OUTCOME AWAY?!?!
Yes, Cam went blam and shot the Halos dead. Giovanny Urshela hit a two-run jack to left field, and put the Angels down two runs in the 12th. Houston lost earlier tonight(to getting-cocky Rangers), too, so it could've meant a game in the standings had he managed to close out the halos. After that exhilirating performance by Shoemaker, and the superb showing from all of the Angels REAL bullpen pitchers, some random AAA guy comes in and wrecks it all like a holy terror toddler smashing another kid's Legos. I'm assuming it was a mistake that Bedrosian was in the game...perhaps he took a wrong turn down a tunnel, or something? That makes more sense than him being specifically chosen to come in and pitch. It WAS the 12th, I guess...pickings getting slim...but trot out Kole Calhoun at pitcher...or anybody...before trotting out Cam Bedrosian.
Of course, there's the positive way to look at it: neither team did all that much tonight, because Shoemaker/Carrasco, plus bullpen sexiness. It's just a tough loss, and it was going to be a heartbreak or ecstasy. Still, the Angels played a lot of innings and had two hits to show for it. A whooping of face/palm proportions. And an AL West opportunity lost, to boot. Unreal.