Angels 4 Rays 0
Yesterday, in our series preview article for this current 4-game tussle in Tampa Bay, we predicted that today’s game would be very fun to watch, at least if you’re an Angels fan. I can confirm; this game WAS extremely fun to watch. The Halos flexed so much firepower and exuded so much swag tonight that you can totally overlook the fact that they were playing a mediocre Rays team; when they’re putting on a clinic like they did today, I would have them beating just about anybody.
The game began with the boom of a loud, brooding, Halo red thundercloud; two booms, to be exact. Cameron Maybin, once again in the lead off spot, hit a 416 ft homer, the second day in a row in which Cray May has gone yard. The thunder was still rolling, though, as Mike Trout, once again in the #2 spot, hit a first-pitch blizzy, also going 416 ft. Immediately, the Rays and starter Alex Cobb were taking deep breaths and bracing for that violent, Halo red storm that had just hit land. Halos led 2-0, just like that.
This was the first time the Angels have kicked off a game with back-to-back homers since 2013 (Calhoun & Trout, Rangers) but it was the first time they’d done so ON THE ROAD since Rex Hudler & Don Slaught did it in Baltimore, 1996.
With the Maybin/Trout power getting the Angels out in front, Matt Shoemaker then set out to vanquish the Rays, and boy did he ever vanquish and conquer! We’ve slowly watched Shoemaker get into his groove over the last three starts, and become the SHOEMAKER PRIME we saw in 2016, the one that laid waste to so many helpless MLB lineups.
Tonight, he was lights out, basically cruising through the first six frames with ease. It was only when he got to the seventh that he got into some trouble. Going into that inning, he had given up ONE hit to Tampa Bay, walked two and struck out five. That’s the shredder I know and love. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, he only managed to get one out and also suddenly had the bases loaded.
Mike Scioscia lifted the mighty Shoemaker at that point; The Cobbler would leave with 6.1 IP/ 3 H/ 0 R/ 3 BB/ 5 K. You may notice that despite that rough patch Shoemaker created before his night was done, he still had no runs in his stat line. That’s because the Yusmeiro Petit came in and threw down like a boss.
Really, the whole Halos bullpen were some badasses on the bump once again tonight; Petit got the party started, striking out three Rays in 1.0 IP, then Jose Alvarez K’d two batters in 0.2 IP. Keynan Middleton closed this party down, and while he didn’t get any Ks, he acted just fine as the tail end of the Halos’ storm, passing over Tropicana, until it returns for some more tormenting tomorrow.
The Angels got one hell of a show from their relievers, but they didn’t even need them to be THAT good, because they’d add a couple more insurance runs, anyway. Luis Valbuena had two hits tonight, one being the RBI single in the top of the eighth, which was also the inning where Kole Calhoun drove in a run on what ended up being a double play.
Great to see Valbuena with the multi-hit night, we need that bat to start lighting fools up. Simba also had a multi-hit night (3-3), yet another positive development in the hitting department.
With those extra eighth inning runs tacked on to the scoreboard, the Angels had a 4-0 lead that was going absolutely nowhere with the pitching staff looking like the GOATiest GOATS to ever GOAT. With the final out from Major Key, we had ourselves a 3-game winning streak, and I was once again floating in that ethereal, fist-pumping Angels groove that consumed me last week. That Mets series is nearly erased from my mind.
The Halos are building up that momentum again, more pieces are clicking into place, Mike Trout is mashing, SHOEMAKER PRIME has been engaged, and the Angels are straight up cooking.