Something has gotten into the Angels. It was with heavy trepidation that they came face to face with world champion Kansas City this week. Hot on the heels of a lackluster road trip and a home series loss to the Mariners, the Angels attitude seemed to be up in the air. Perhaps they were just waiting for a worthy opponent before they showed their true capability, because they've absolutely clobbered the Royals the last two nights, looking like a team possessed.
The game started off as quite the back and forth affair between two unbeaten starters, Jered Weaver and Edinson Volquez, with Weaver taking first dibs on looking like he was about to give up the game. In the first inning, the first three batters Weaver faced all took him deep, with two being caught on the warning track by Rafael Ortega, and one went over the center field wall for a homer(Mike Moustakas). It seemed like it was going to be one of those nights, as the Royals added another run on a hard hit double down the right field line from Jarrod Dyson.
A 2-0 lead early was dire, but the Angels weren't having none of that shutout business. In the bottom of the second, with bases loaded, Rafael Ortega got an RBI from a groundout, and he was then followed up by a huge Mike Trout single that drove in two. Just like that, the Angels had taken the lead. And this was the tone of the game early on...each team taking stabs at the other, hoping to hit an artery. The Royals probably thought they had delivered a death blow when Weaver gave up two RBI doubles, one to Omar Infante and Dyson got his second, which swung the advantage back to Kansas City, 4-3.
But then a hero came along, and he didn't bother with the hand to hand combat...he went nuclear.
If last night was an Albert Pujols game, tonight was a certified Johnny Giavotella game, our first of 2016, and does it ever feel good. The Giavotella reckoning came in the fifth, and was first proceeded by game-changing, two-run single from catcher Carlos Perez. That knock put the Halos up 5-4, but they weren't done. With Carlos Perez and C.J. Cron on base, Johnny Giavotella came to the dish and drove a line drive homer into left field. It was a three run blast, his first of the season, and the Angels had put an 8-4 chasm between them and the defending champs.
Johnny Giavotella, with that hit, reminded all of us why we fell in love with the guy last season. When he is terrorizing the other team, life is good, and tonight he was a one man wrecking crew. He wasn't even done with that go-ahead bomb. In the seventh, Giavotella hit a double to right field, and when he sensed a grounder by Yunel Escobar was being misplayed, he chugged right through third base and right on home. A demon on the basepaths, a demon at the plate, an Angel in our hearts.
That last gasp of pure, unfiltered Johnny G gave the Angels a 9-4 lead and that would be all they need to take game two of the series. The bullpen came in and completely stifled the Royals lineup and made quick work of batters faced, and with that 14 hit attack, the Angels lit up the Halo against a vaunted opponent.
Johnny Giavotella finished up 3-4, with a double and a homer, three RBI and three runs scored. Epic night from Johnny, but also an epic night from the rest of the team, too. Jered Weaver did the job out there, and surprised us all by picking up another win. Mike Trout continued his hot streak, getting on base for the seventh game in a row, guys in the bottom of the order NOT named Giavotella even did well(Cron and Simmons got hits, Perez had a couple RBI). Add in another Andrelton Simmons jaw-dropping highlight(he went deep into left field for a crazy over the shoulder catch...again) and you have a delicious recipe for victory.
You have to love games like this; everyone producing, everyone contributing, crazy plays and head-turning hits, firing on all cylinders. I'm still not sure what team is going to show up every game, but when it's THIS Angels team, I'm a happy man.