Angels 8 Mariners 4
It had been a little over a month since Johnny Giavotella mysteriously dropped out of the Angels' lineup, making way for lots and lots of Taylor Featherston playing time. We eventually learned that he had something called fourth nerve palsy pop up in his eyes, causing him to have double vision when looking to his left. The only thing he could do? Wait.
Johnny Giavotella was finally back at 100% today, and was immediately put back into the lineup card by manager Mike Scioscia. He knows a spark plug when he sees it, and with the way he came through in the clutch in the earlier parts of the season, they would need him in this stretch of games where every day could be the team's last. Giavotella was ready, to say the least.
Nelson Cruz would get a homer off of starter Garrett Richards in the first, but the Angels actually jumped to a very quick and cozy 4-1 right after that in the bottom of the inning. Mike Trout had an RBI double, followed by a two run blast from Albert Pujols(his 37th). Later in the same inning, David Freese would single home C.J. Cron, and the Halos had what should have been enough to do the job. It's never QUITE that easy, though, is it?
Richards let the Mariners back in the game in the second, allowing a couple runs and we had a 4-3 ballgame, but after that he was able to settle into a typical Garrett Richards groove, and wouldn't get in any more run-scoring trouble for the rest of his evening on the mound.
But with Seattle only one run away, the Angels would need some insurance, and that's where recently returned Johnny Giavotella came in.
The fire starter had himself a two hit night, with two big time RBIs off of Mariners pitching. The first came in the fourth, when a dribbler up the middle got through to the outfield and scored Shane Victorino, who had doubled to lead off the inning. Then, in the sixth, Johnny Giavotella hit a deep shot to center field that bounced right at the warning track, scoring David Freese, and Giavotella rounded the bases and literally flew into third with a diving slide that had him not only safe, but pumping his fists as the Angels faithful in attendance went nuts. Little Italy is back y'all. With those two clutch knocks, the Angels had a 6-3 lead heading into the seventh inning.
C.J. Cron felt a little left out of the party, and in the seventh, he hit an absolute no-doubter to dead center field, making the score an insurmountable 8-3, and suggesting that maybe, just maybe, this team is getting really hot at the exact time they need to be getting really hot.
The Mariners got one back in the eighth, but that was all they could muster on a night when the offense was firing on all cylinders. An 8-4 victory on their first game back at their home field, after a tough but victorious road trip, and all of a sudden we have a possibly-deadly team on our hands, folks.
On top of all the heavenly baseball we saw on the field tonight, including the return of a fan favorite, the Angels also got good news in the standings. Texas beat Houston, so that means the Angels are now just 0.5 games out of the second wild card spot. A HALF GAME, PEOPLE. Unreal.
If they were going to have an easy game this series, tonight would be it. They face some tough pitching Saturday and Sunday, starting first with King Felix. They may have a king, but we have a Trout, a Machine and the Johnny G Funk Era. Mount up, Angels. Time to do some regulatin'.