Since their loss against the Tigers on Wednesday (but the series win), and an off-day yesterday, the Angels have found themselves in the land of the Steelers, Penguins and yep, the Pirates. It's been a long while since the Angels visited the Bucs, and the last time they did, it definitely wasn't these bucs.
The 2016 Pirates are not that bad at all, playing five games over .500 coming into tonight's game (29-24), plus they've got a number of exciting, young baseball fellas (Cutch!). The Halos, and especially Jered Weaver, had their work cut out for them. Maybe it was some good pierogis they had, or maybe they were inspired by the beauty and majesty that is PNC park...whatever it was, the visitors from Los Angeles unabashedly obliterated the hometown Pirates, and it wasn't even close.
The Halo Blitz was in motion from the top of the first, with Mike Trout getting the party started with an RBI single. Johnny Giavotella then had a two-run single, making it 3-0 before Pittsburgh even had an at-bat. In the second, Kole Calhoun had a groundout that also scored a run, and I believe he was so ashamed by that groundout that he personally atoned for it by creaming a Francisco Liriano fastball nearly 430 feet; Andrew McCutchen didn't even take a step as he watched it sail towards him and then over the fence, because it was the definition of a no-doubter.
More runs, more runs, more runs: Gregorio Petit tacked some on, as did bench dude Shane Robinson. Yunel Escobar, fresh from his injury, drove in two with a nice single up the middle. No matter who the Pirates threw out there to pitch, the Angels were smacking them around like an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon (less blood and cartoonish gore, though, but equally entertaining and hilarious).
The Halos finished with 9 runs, on 13 hits, with practically everybody in the lineup getting a hit or contributing to the scoring frenzy that was going down on someone else's hallowed grounds, but tonight every square inch belonged to the Angels. Oh, and when I said practically everyone got a hit, the only person that didn't really join in was Jered Weaver, but that might have been because he was too busy taking care of business on the bump.
Weaver finished the night with a Quality Start, his team-leading sixth of the season. He only allowed two runs, which is a feat when you've seen what these Pirates batters are capable of against other teams, all on six hits, with five Ks and just one walk. Quality. His two runs were early in the game (second inning) and were both solo shot homers to Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang. He dusted his shoulders off, though, and got right back to work. Not much more you can ask for Weaver, especially in a game that had to potential to be a bloodbath road game, but instead we got some nice pitching.
With the game at 9-2, the bullpen combo of Cam Bedrosian and Greg Mahle held the Pirates at bay (did I pun right?) until the ninth, when Mike Scioscia called upon Javy Guerra. Guerra had no sending Pittsburgh packing, and after a few quick outs, the Angels took the series opener...and far, far away, a Halo was lit as the sun was about to go down on Orange County.
A nice series opener, no way you can trip about this one. Pretty much every hitter had a nice looking stat line, the starting pitching was surprisingly stable and the bullpen didn't blow anything up or tear down what was built in the offensive Halo Blitz. These guys aint so tough after all, huh?