The Angels had themselves a busy day, both on the field and in the standings. The first game of the doubleheader went to the Halos, of course, and brought them neck and neck with Minnesota in the Wild Card race, but with the Astros and Rangers now playing their own games, the second game of today's twofer held promise of things getting topsy turvy in the mad dash to the postseason.
Garrett Richards took the hill for the Halos, and was virtually unstoppable for the first six or seven innings. Garrett was working his breaking stuff and the high heat with aplomb, and at one point had retired 13 straight batters. Meanwhile, the Angels were doing their best to not have this thing go to extras like the day's previous Twins tussle.
Things were quiet for basically the first half of the game, until the Angels managed to string together four hits in the sixth, resulting in three runs. Albert Pujols made his rare, post-All Star Game appearance, driving in two runs on a double through the left field power alley. In the next play, David Murphy got a bloop into shallow center, and Pujols raced from second to home, putting the Angels up 3-0 and probably exhausting any life left he had in his feet for this season.
In the seventh, Chris Iannetta hit his tenth homer of the year; a solo shot that landed in the upper deck of left field, giving the Angels a 4-0 cushion. Trevor Plouffe would get that run back for the Twins in the bottom of the side, going solo off of Richards. That 4-1 score would go back to a four run lead in eighth, when Mike Trout smashed a ball 432 feet into center field. That was Trout's 39th of the year and the third from him in this series alone. The kid's got the goods.
In the eighth, Garrett Richards was still on the mound and just over 100 pitches when he walked a couple and gave up a single to load the bases. He was able to work out of that rough jackpot, though, and while it looked like he was done for the night, he came out again in the ninth. The Twins were still smelling blood, especially with Torii Hunter and Eduardo Nunez getting singles and threatening on the base paths. Richards would get the second out of the inning, but it would come at the expense of an RBI, and with the score now 5-2, the valiant and brave night from Garrett Richards was over. While Scioscia had a short leash for Heaney earlier this afternoon, he let Richards cruise for as long as he ever has, finishing with a career high 122 pitches.
Huston Street came in for the last out of the game, forcing a fly ball and the Angels sweep the double header with a score of 5-2. It was G-Rich's 14th win of the year, and featured some good offense from the team; 11 hits, including bombs from Trout and Iannetta, and a Pujols sighting.
The Halos are now one game behind Houston for the second Wild Card spot, and if Houston ends up losing(they're losing to Oakland at the time of this writing) then they'll go to just a half game back. They're also just 3.5 games out of first in the AL West, of course the Rangers are currently beating Seattle(at the time of this writing) but they're still in striking distance regardless.
First things first: overtake that wild card spot. Then they can regroup, and work on the division lead. This is crazy, but I love it.