Jhoulys Chacin stepped in for an "ill" Nick Tropeano today after a late announcement on Friday night. Turns out that Nick Tropeano would be the latest causality in what may be the worst bad luck season for the Angels in the history of the team. How you survive a season with a sub-par team is one thing. How you survive it when your 5th pitcher has gone on the DL is a whole other story. It's actually quite surprising the Angels aren't 10-15 games back in the AL West right now.
Chacin picked up the slack for NiTro and did it well. He only pitched 5 innings, but when he left the game, the score was tired at 3. The Angels started the scoring early with a homerun by Kole Calhoun in the top of the 1st. The Pirates answered back int the bottom of the second with a 2 run HR by Jung Ho Kang. Not behind for long, Jhoulys Chacin helped himself out with a lead off single in the 3rd, and scored on Yunel Escobar's double. The Angels gave us hope that they were not going down easy today in Pittsburgh.
The seesaw would continue with Chacin walked McCutchen with the bases loaded in the top of the 4th, and the Pirates were ahead once again. Chacin got Polacno to ground out and saved the inning from being more destructive than it was. Once thing to say about the Angels offense, is they have been hot lately and continue to fight. Shane Robinson hit a leadoff homerun in the 6th and the score was tied once again. This game had more score changes than politician flip flops and it was only the 6th inning. We had this game right? These Angels have some fight in them, and fans everywhere continued to be optimistic we'd pull out a win.
Cam Bedrosian came in and pitched a scoreless 6th. He seems to do better when he does not inherit runners, since he has one of the highest rates of inherited runners scored in all of MLB. The top of the 7th was also uneventful and then Fernando Salas came in to pitch the bottom of the 7th. On his very first pitch, the tie was broken when Gregory Polanco absolutely crushed a 451 foot homerun to break the tie. A few pitches later, Sterling Marte would reach on a throwing error by Johnny Giavotella that some would says was Pujols' fault for not moving off the bag. Instead of an out, Marte advanced to second and scored on the next hit by Josh Harrison. This close game was now a 2 run lead by the Pirates and things were not going well for Salas.
After a Jordy Mercer walk and coaching visit to the mound, and old familiar face came up to pinch hit in the form of Matt Joyce. Yes, THE Matt Joyce who could only muster a .175 AVG for the Angels last season. THIS Matt Joyce decided to launch a 3-run bomb to straightaway centerfield and cement the Angels buttercup. THIS Matt Joyce somehow has a 1.146 OPS and has hit more homeruns in half as many at bats.
Failing part. You think? What the hell Matt Joyce? Your career was basically over and you head to the East coast and start raking. Yea. Thanks for that. Joyce's homerun made the score seemingly insurmountable at 8-3.
This Angels team is something else in 2016. I'm not sure what it is, but they always give you just enough hope when you are ready to give up. Yunel Escobar, who now leads the team in AVG thanks to a great game a stinker by Trout, drove in run 4 with an RBI double. Calhoun, who also had a good game, drove in Escobar on his next at bat. Angels 5, Pirates 8. Giavotella scored Calhoun and Carlos Perez scored Giavotella with a double. Suddenly the Angels were back in this, and only 1 run down. Unfortunately, Jefry Marte ended the inning and we'd have to try again int he 9th.
Mark Melancon, closer extraordinaire, came in the game and shut down Oregeta, Robinson, and Escobar in order. It was a one run loss and several moments in this game could be to blame with a game that close. The 8th inning 4-run Angels rally was fun but not enough to overcome the deficit.
The Angels lost a heartbreaker today. It was made even worse by the knife-twisting of one Matt Joyce who has been spectacular for Pittsburgh but couldn't even muster a mediocre performance for the Angels. Tropeano is on the DL and our former left fielder is hitting better than our current left fielder(s). It's a rough day to be an Angels fan.