The Angels headed to Milwaukee hoping to salvage their road trip after a disappointing stop in Arlington. Instead, they found themselves looking to avoid a sweep at the hands of the basement dwelling Brewers.
Hector Santiago did not inspire much confidence early on, walking the first two batters he faced. While he ultimately wiggled out of that first inning jam, he had his second straight underwhelming start, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings on 8 hits and 4 walks, whiffing 4 batters. More concerning, he saw his velocity dip for the second consecutive start, sitting mostly 88-90 MPH, only topping out at 92 in the sixth as he attempted to claw through his last few batters of the day. The extra late zip on his fastball did not help, as he left the game with one out and the bases loaded. Cam Bedrosian nearly escaped with a strike out and a grounder to short, but a wild pitch in between allowed the go-ahead run to score.
Meanwhile, winless Milwaukee starter Zach Davies kept the Angels at bay, leaking some base runners but mostly staying out of trouble. With most of the club never having faced Davies before, this had all the makings of "one of those games." He was hardly dominant, essentially matching Santiago by striking out three while walking three, allowing two runs in six innings of work. The young right hander saw his season ERA drop to 6.98. Woof.
Fortunately for the Angels, Mike Trout was intent on putting on a show for his family sitting in attendance. In third, he drove in Rafael Ortega on a triple to center field off a low breaking pitch, putting his club ahead 2-1. Ortega had just finished driving in Johnny Giavotella, who led off the inning with a double, making Scioscia's decision to bat him ninth behind the pitcher look smart.
Trout came up big once again in the eighth, launching another breaking ball to right to tie the game with a solo home run off reliever Tyler Thornburg. Kole Calhoun kept the inning going with a laser single to center before being erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of Simmons. Geovany Soto drew a timely walk and set the stage for C.J. Cron to be the hero off the bench, plating a run off a long single to left. It was a great AB for Cron, who worked a full count after falling behind 1-2, continuing his solid recent play. A pitching change did not bother Giavotella, as he came up big with a two run single to pad the lead. Calhoun just keeps on hitting, swatting three singles, the last one plating an insurance marker in the top of the ninth.
The Angels' pen was once again asked to work overtime after another abbreviated appearance from a starting pitcher. While Bedrosian allowed an inherited runner to score, he still deserves some credit for damage control in a situation that could have blown the game open and sealed the Angels' fate. Fernando Salas had a clean seventh inning and was followed in the eighth by Joe Smith. Scioscia wasn't going to mess around this game, using his interim closer for two innings to wrap up the victory.
There were plenty of positives to take away from this victory. Trout, Calhoun, Escobar and Ortega continue to hit, while Santiago went the other way for the third hit of his career. Pujols drew two walks and just narrowly missed hitting a three-run bomb in the ninth. Bedrosian was used in a high-leverage situation and would have come out unscathed if not for some head's up base running by Milwaukee's Hernan Perez. And finally, Cron and Giavotella both come up with clutch hits, as they continue to build confidence after horrid starts to their season.
The Angels end a disappointing road trip on a high note and now get to enjoy a day off before welcoming the Rays for a weekend series at the Big A. Light that baby up, Angels fans, the road back to .500 starts today!