Angels 5 Mariners 4
Ricky Nolasco started off about as frightening as possible, as Mitch Haniger hit a homer off of him, with Jean Segura on base, giving the Mariners a 2-0 lead. This was especially alarming because Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger were the only people who had ABs in the game so far. Yep, after about nine pitches, the Angels and Nolasco were in a two-run hole.
The good news is that Nolasco settled down quite a bit after that, in fact he just allowed two more hits and no runs over his next five innings. Yes, I said five innings, meaning that Nolasco made it through six innings; a feat no other Halos starter has managed to pull of so far in this young season.
So it got ugly quick and then real, real purty, in regards to Ricky Nolasco’s evening. Wasn’t overpowering a lot of guys, only K’d three, but he had good command and once again, a good D. Oh yeah, about that defense.
Allow me to take a moment to praise our defensive lord and run savior, Andrelton Simmons, and give thanks unto him who delivered the most insane tag I’ve seen in a minute. If you missed it, imaging a grounder to the 3B side that is thrown to Jefry Marte at first for the out, and he then rifles it back to third, to get Jean Segura, who is foolishly trying to advance from second.
The Marte throw was high and it took a leaping and angling Simmons to grab it out of the air, except by that time he’d pulled off the difficult catch, Segura was practically under him. Most other players in this league would have given up at this point, most likely because they are beholden to things like physics and gravity...you know, things that don’t apply to Simba.
Simmons somehow got the glove from back behind his head, down underneath his leg, still behind him...and underneath him...and got Segura just in time to tag him out. The call on the field was safe, but Simmons said “nah” and Mike Scioscia challenged it and the umps eventually said “Yeah, he’s right” and overturned the call. Such a good play, we’re truly blessed.
So with Nolasco getting to work, and the defense doing their thing, it was up to the offense to get some support. Most nights, with Felix Hernandez on the mound, that would be easier said than done, but the Angels actually managed to have some success against him.
Danny Espinosa had an RBI single off King Felix in the second, and Kole Calhoun got himself another big knock with an RBI single of his own in the third. Then, with the game tied up in the fifth, Yunel Escobar battled Hernandez in an epic, 9-pitch AB that resulted in a majestic, deep home run that just barely got over the center field wall. But just barely is good enough, and the Halos had a 3-2 lead over the Mariners.
Speaking of Escobar, he’d actually had a double in his first AB before the homer, and it was his first xbh this season, and then he went and followed it up with his first home run of the season. He also had a single in the game, so he was the proverbial triple-shy-of-the-cycle. Nice night from Esky; in fact, Albert Pujols also had a 3-hit game, so give a little golf to the old man.
Up to that point, we’d had a nice game full of some exciting defense, and a pretty great Escobar home run, but then it took a step back in the seventh when Mike Zunino drove in a tying run with a single off of reliever J.C. Ramirez. Ok, so it was going to be like that.
Mike Trout is a competitive guy; it’s one of those things about him that his family will say, in interviews, that it’s equally frustrating and annoying, but it’s also what makes him so great. I like to think that Mike Trout saw Yunel Escobar hitting a beauty of a dinger, and it was his ultra-competitive nature that made him think “Pffft, I’m gonna hit a better one.”
Mike Trout hit a better one.
It was off of the Mariners’ Evan Scribner, it was in the bottom of the seventh, and it was a two-run, absolutely no-doubter-whatsoever-er to center field, and it gave the Angels a 5-3 lead. It was one of those special Mike Trout moments, especially in a game where he was given some new hardware (Silver Slugger award) and praise (MVP ceremony) before the game. That’s how Mike Trout rolls.
If you didn’t think a Trout go-ahead bomb in the seventh wasn’t unbelievable enough, then I have something in store for you. In a high leverage situation in the 8th inning, Mike Scioscia used Cam Bedrosian! He ditched roles, guys, I swear I almost fainted. With one on, one out, Bedrosian was called upon to get out of the situation.
Mike Scioscia, you sly dog, you! Is Scioscia, a man known to be stubborn to change, learning new ways (or is this just a normal, regular 5-out save that Sosh would have always done)? Stay tuned on that front. This season may have some crazy surprises in store.
Back to the game, Bedrosian did give up a sac fly to Seattle, making the Halos’ lead just 5-4, but he was back out in the ninth, and he was fully in command and had a 1-2-3 inning, STRIKING OUT ALL THREE BATTERS. That was pretty rad, the perfect cherry on top of one hell of a baseball sundae.
The Angels have now won their first series of the season, and it was in front of a rollicking home crowd. The smiles were emanating as much from the field as they were the stands by the time Victor was dropping his #LTBU catch phrase, which is a pretty good sign coming from this ballclub.
They’ve had some extremely fun games, they’ve had some extremely good plays, some insanely awesome moments, and I’m getting more and more excited about this group that Billy Eppler put together. When they play like they have the past couple nights...good hitting, solid pitching, elite D, good closer...well, that’s just a good baseball team.
Now, make it a sweep, gentlemen.