Right off the bat , we need to give massive props to newly acquired starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, whose Angels debut was an injection of something the Halos sorely needed: innings, innings and innings. Chacin made one bad pitch to Adam Lind in the second, with a man on, and while it barely made it over the center field wall, it was still a homer and the Mariners had the 2-0 lead.
The pessimism we may have for this team, however varied in amount and intensity, would at that time render itself in the form of "Oh great, another one of these starts" utterances or thoughts; if that was you, then trust me, I relate and you're not alone. But then Chacin got settled in and started schooling the Mariners. They couldn't touch him much after that, and even better, he went over the 6 IP mark. That seems like a sad benchmark to be concerned about, but that's because it is. Chacin would do even better, and get through 7 IP, with just five hits and those two Lind RBI. Good debut. How good?
So Eppler got at least one start out of his recent pickup, the same one that cost him almost nothing in return. Chacin's job was done, and that would put the onus on those suspect Angels bats. Would run support once again be on the menu in Safeco? Yes...yes, it would and it was awesome.
Daniel Nava got the Angels on the board for the first time with an RBI double, driving in Kole Calhoun. That was in the sixth, and the score was 2-1 Mariners.Time was running out, they needed a Halo blitz and they needed it to happen soon.
The seventh was when the baseball gods dropped the hammer on Seattle, as starting pitcher Iwakuma finally showed some real cracks, and the Angels pounced.Johnny Giavotella got second homer of the year, that also happened to be game tying. Carlos Perez then doubled to right, and was moved over to third on a Petit bunt. Yunel Escobar, MLB King of Swag, drove him home with a single and like that, lightning had struck twice and the Angels came from behind and led the Mariners 3-2.
The subliminal gut punches to Jerry Dipoto weren't over, not by a long shot. For the first time in the 2016 season, some Angels yard back-to-back, and the guys to do it? Kole Calhoun(two run shot and also his third hit of the night) and Mike Trout(monster shot to left center). Three homers in ONE inning, topped off with a little RBI single chaser, and when the dust settled, the Halos were up on the AL West-leading Mariners 6-2.
Then it happened.
I've come to accept that the Angels are analogous to the classic comedy trope of someone covering up one leaking hole in a dike, only to see another bust through the concrete, and when that one's covered, yet another shows up, etc., until you've got yourself a classic screwball scenario. When that situation is transposed onto the diamond, it is not funny in any way whatsoever, let me tell you. The Angels score runs when their pitching has meltdowns, and when the pitching is on point, the hitting is nowhere to be found. The starters will get shelled while the bullpen is rock solid. You see where i'm going.
That last one is exactly where the Angels had been recently; bullpen becoming reliable while the starters can't get six innings in the book. Tonight, with a starter who had barely been on the team but a few days, did the improbably by giving us one of the best starts in a week or two. So one leak was fixed, if only for tonight, and right on schedule the bullpen busted open.
If you've done the Buttercup math in your head, you'll see how it all makes pathetic sense. Mike Morin and Fernando Salas did not have a good bottom of the eighth, and I can only imagine the number of head shaking and facepalming was going on throughout the world of us Angels fans. Morin had given up three hits and allowed two runs, Angels lead cut to 6-4. Jerry Dipoto could smell blood.
Fernando Salas' night was seemingly set up by Dipoto long ago and him putting the reliever on the Halos was all a set up for tonight. Fly in the ointment Adam Lind doubled and drove in two, tying up the game, but the horror show wasn't over. Steve Clevenger singled in a run and just like that, the Angels had lost the lead and Chacin had lost his win. Dipoto had taken some shots earlier, and now he had gotten his in.
Everything was building to a ninth inning, with both teams battling back and forth from last night all through this evening's baseball brawl, and it would deliver the drama and intensity in untold levels. Steve Chisek, at the beginning of this series, was the owner of some crazy good numbers as Seattle's reliever in 2016. But the Angels made him look like a rube last night, and tonight, with the Angels down one, he had a chance for revenge. He blew it.
Calhoun and Trout, the new and formidable #2 and #3 hitters, got on base early, and Chisek was sweating bullets. He had to contend with Albert Pujols, and just like it was ripped out of a 2006 highlight reel, El Hombre destroyed a 91mph Chisek sinker into the left field stands! Angels jumped ahead to a 9-7 lead, completely silencing the crowd once again, as Pujols took his sweet damn time admiring his shot and then flipping his bat as if he were sending it straight through the heart of Jerry Dipoto.
Pujols is that kinda guy; he can frustrate a lot, but then he can hit a ball that reminds you that he was once a god with that wood, not just in pure aesthetics like distance or speed, but in terms of ultimate clutch-ness, as well. Once the fervor in the Angels dugout subsided, the Angels went out to make one final stand in the bottom of the ninth with Joe Smith leading the charge. A quick three outs and the halo back home had itself yet another improbable lighting.
The past few games have been unreal in their unrelenting ups and downs, the comebacks and the fall behinds. My jaw has dropped numerous times and whether it's ended with a W or an L, and I've at least seen some fight out of the Halos. This team is fun, and they're actually emoting as such out there. They're doing things like going yard four times, including game-winning theatricals, and having new friends like Jhoulys Chacin doing some heavy lifting right from the jump.
Tomorrow, they have the chance to sweep Dipoto and Servais at home, and they have the momentum at their backs to push them towards that minor glory.