Angels 6 Mariners 4
With the Angels on a roll, they came into Safeco looking to shove their clout around, score some quick runs, have The Cobbler destroy their lineup, along with some other great pitching performances, and sneak out of there with a couple Ws under their belts. In their first game of 2017 in Seattle, though, it wouldn’t be anywhere near that easy, nope. Not even close.
Matt Shoemaker’s night, while ugly in the box score (5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5 K), was actually the product of one horrible side. To get more specific, it was the bottom of the third; if you want to bust out the microscope even more, you’ll notice just how frustrating of an inning it was.
Shoemaker had been more or less cruising up until that point, allowing just one hit from Seattle, when all of a sudden, with two outs on the board, he all of a sudden can’t find the strike zone and walks a guy. It was the second base runner of the game. After that, he walked another guy. With two outs!
The Angels can be known to make the worst of a bad situation, and this was one of those times, because those two Mariners that Shoemaker let on, after plowing through every batter faced beforehand, ended up scoring. With two outs! The other run that Shoemaker gave up was a solo Danny Valencia bomb in the sixth, but it was really that third, with two down, that sunk his night.
The Angels would actually answer those two runs, in the top of the fourth, with Seattle starter James Paxton on the hill. Paxton, like Shoemaker, was having not problems with the batters, until later innings, that is. First, though, Paxton would give up a ground-rule double to Cameron Maybin in T4, but that inning, like a lot of other innings in this game, had a lot of runners left on the table.
Jefry Marte would add one on in the fifth via sac fly, and that would actually tie up the game, until that aforementioned Valencia home run occurred in the sixth. It was a close game, with very little margin error for the Halos. That’s probably what made the lack of clutch hitting in the first seven frames so frustrating.
It kind of became the theme for the night: Runners in scoring position, stranded. Heading into the eighth inning, they were 1-12 RISP, which is downright atrocious. Especially since it was a 3-2 game, a razor thin deficit, that could have them on top big time if they’d just get some crucial hits earlier in the evening.
In the top of the eighth, though, The Red Baron put his foot down and said “This game is over.” With Seattle closer Edwin Diaz on in the top of the eighth, and one man on base, Kole Calhoun launched a fly ball fit for the gods into the right field seats, causing the Angels and their fans (and Andrew Heaney) to erupt with equal parts cheers of joy and screams of utter disbelief. It was a two-run game-changer, the Angels now up 4-3 with the Mariners still in pure shock.
The home team still had a couple times up at the plate, so the Halos’ relief staff had to continue to keep them from getting any big hits, and they almost completely trashed that task in the bottom of the eighth. With Yusmeiro Petit pitching, Guillermo Heredia hit a towering fly ball to left field, the Mariners fans breathless, hoping it will go over. It was a magical moment in the making for the Safeco crowd.
Spoiler: Cameron Maybin ruined their evening.
Maybin not only leaped up and robbed the homer at the top of the left field wall, but he coyly hid his glove behind his back for an extended three-count, the anticipation of “did he?” palpable. He then quickly brought the glove out in full view, quickly flicking the ball from the glove into the air, and then into his waiting hand. He got ‘em. Boy, did they hate Maybin so, so much at that very moment, but boy, did I love him.
Bud Norris came on in the ninth for the save, because he’s our closer now, guys. But whatever works, right? And tonight, like the rest of the relief pitching, he worked. Well, up until there were two outs. What happened once there were two outs? Well, all hell broke loose, just like it did for Shoemaker in the third, that’s what happened.
Norris got two down, and then decided to lose most of his control and effective pitching prowess, getting guys on first and second, and then Robinson Cano hit a shift-beating single through the shortstop area, which tied the game up at 4-4. THERE WERE TWO OUTS. THERE WERE TWO OUTS, THIS TEAM IS TRYING TO KILL ME.
We were sent to extra innings, where it was Stalemate City for the 10th, no matter how hard the Angels tried to let the Mariners into the promised land. In the 11th, though, Mike Trout saw an opportunity to nip this in the bud and he took it; we are all blessed for having Mike Trout.
With Mike Trout on first base...FIRST BASE...Albert Pujols hit a liner to right field, and as Mariners’ RF Ben Gamel dove for the falling baseball, he botched it, letting it go underneath his body. Trout was already off to the races, and while Gamel did a good job of recovering, well, they don’t say “speed kills” for nothin’...he made it home as the ball got to the infield. Pujols safe at second.
Pujols would eventually steal third...yep, you read that correctly...and then an Andrelton Simmons grounder meant that Pujols reached from third and the Halos got one more run. Some insurance never hurt anybody.
Ok. Breathe again. Exhale. This one may have shaved a few years off of my life, but it seemed to be working back in the Team of Destiny’s favor. Destiny is kind of crazy like that.
The Halos, thanks to the players locked in our favorite team bromance, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, had done what they do best and the good guys reclaimed their position as kings of this Tuesday night hill. Glorious. Now, don’t screw this up, bullpen.
GOOD NEWS! The bullpen didn’t screw it up. That was it. It was over, for reals!
Another entry into the Team of Destiny lore and sending our hearts aflutter once again with this rag tag bunch of Halos that somehow pulls crazy wins out of thin air. Oh, and to top off the cool night, Mike Trout had a double, which makes it 15 games in a row he’s had a hit. That ties his career best; could we see Trout set yet another new personal best tomorrow night?
They’re appointment television now, at the very least. You may worry about the Tyler Skaggs or Garrett Richards situations, or look at our bullpen arms and think “Really? These guys?” but you can’t deny that they’re getting the job done in some really entertaining ways. Yep, they’ll drive you mad, on the field or off the field. It wouldn’t be an Angels season if they didn’t.