Whoa. The Angels faced AL Cy Young candidate Sonny Gray today, scoring a boatload of runs off of the Oakland ace, and turned an inauspicious series against another struggling AL West team into a September rallying cry. Things were popping off almost immediately for the Angels, as Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout both got on via singles, and Calhoun eventually scoring on a wild pitch. David Murphy would then chip in with an RBI single, C.J. Cron drove in Albert Pujols on a ground out and David Freese signaled his return to the lineup with an RBI single as well. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Angels had a 4-0 lead against a normally-tough starting pitch.
The bad vibes would soon rear their head in the form of some Andrew Heaney-allowed runs in the bottom of the first, as Danny Valencia singled off of Heaney, driving in one run, followed by a two-run homer by Josh Phegley. that four run cushion quickly shrunk to a narrow 4-3 ball game, but that was about as close as things would get on this Sonny day in Oakland.
From that point on, the Angels' offense was in control, tagging balls left and right and giving Gray multiple headaches, while giving Halos fans something to smirk about. In the second, Albert Pujols hit a solo bomb, putting the Angels up 5-3. The homer was #555 for the legendary slugger, and it tied him with Roid Master General Manny Ramirez for 14th on the all time list. Pujols also became one of four players in MLB history to have ten 35+ HR seasons in his first 15 big league years. Congrats, Pujols.
Andrew Heaney continued to hold down the A's, eventually going for 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 6 K, 95 pitches, and retiring his last 11 batters in a row. A rocky start but he sure smoothed things out. Meanwhile, the mashers kept on mashing, and poured it on thick against their lowly division rivals. C.J. Cron had an RBI double and David Freese had a lucky break single that gave him another RBI on the day, and by the late innings, the Angels had an 8-3 lead. In the bottom of the eighth, Joe Smith gave up a homer to Brett Lawrie, but the Angels were having none of that business today and with an Albert Pujols fielder's choice in the ninth, they got the run back and etched their 9-4 victory and series win in stone.
After a demoralizing sweep at the hands of Cleveland, this series sure showed some signs of life from a formerly lifeless team. They seem to be trying to milk the new month mojo for all they can, and who can blame them? It's working. Mike Trout has found his stroke again, with 7 hits in his last 16 ABs. David Murphy had a 3-4 day, upping his avg to .294 and proving he should be in the lineup everyday...screw that platoon noise, Sosh. David Freese is officially back and contributing, Kole Calhoun is on a tear and the starting pitching is doing it's job, keeping games relatively close.
This is the type of game we expect from them, against a team like Oakland, but it's promising. And this late in the season, I'll take "promising" over "dreadful" any day. They just need to do this against teams like the Dodgers, Rangers and Astros now. Their remaining schedule will give them the chance to give themselves a brighter future. It's only a matter of which team shows up in those series. If it's the Angels team we saw today and yesterday in Oakland, then it will be an interesting October, to say the least.