Angels 1 Astros 2
Today wasn’t going to be easy, no matter what. That’s why last night’s implosion was so tough to swallow; that was their last chance at the Astros before they had to face Lance McCullers, a guy that some baseball people think would be the 2017 Cy Young Award winner. The getaway game was going to be a battle, and a battle is what we got.
McCullers was as tough as advertised. He went 6.2 IP, striking out eight and giving up just three hits, no Halos runs crossing the board on his watch. His stuff was nasty, but then again, the Angels have been run-deficient lately, to put it kindly, so whether or not he was on fire or it was just a crappy lineup, that’s up for debate. I pick the former, your mileage may vary.
Matt Shoemaker, his starting pitcher counterpart, did a nice job on the mound himself, save for the two runs he gave up, off of...you guessed it...home runs (Marisnick and Beltran the perpetrators). The Angels took over the MLB most homers allowed top spot from the Padres with the Marisnick bomb, so hey, they’re leading the league in something!
Shoemaker looked good outside of those two homers, going 7.0 IP, giving up just three hits and those two pesky earned runs. He also added seven strikeouts to that line, making it yet another encouraging starting pitching performance from the Halos. Every starter we’ve seen since Shoey’s last start has put in a solid day/night on the bump, and now Shoemaker gives us his second pretty outing in a row.
So, yeah...if you haven’t already, then now is officially the time to turn your fear and panicking away from the pitching and solely on the hitting. The pitching is going to be fine, guys.
The hitters were anemic as you’d expect if you’ve been watching the past week of Angels baseball. Even after they got McCullers out of the game, they still had a tough time in Houston and even made some dumb outs on the basepaths (Like Simmons getting called out in a rundown, right after breaking up McCullers’ no-no, Cameron Maybin not helping by staring at a pitch at the plate).
It wasn’t until the ninth inning, naturally, that they’d make some threatening gesture towards the home team, started by a Mike Trout bomb to left field. It made the game 2-1, within reach, and put the taste of another magical comeback in the back of every fans’ mouth. The taste turned bitter in a hurry.
There was no rally. The Halos did get guys on, but they failed to bring anybody home, instead they went down as you’d expect, and the Astros took the finale, and the series, to the score of 2-1.
So, so close. At least the pitching is keeping games within arms’ reach. The lineup is just crapping the bed when it comes to moving baserunners and getting them home in tough, high leverage situations. The more we see these narrow margins of loss, the more I know we’ll see it swing the other way, and we’ll be on the winning side of those nail-biters.
Of course, by then, it may be too late to make a divisional difference, or maybe it’ll come just in time. Until then, we will keep tuning in either way.