Angels 5 Tigers 3
Thanks, Martin Maldonado!
The catcher that Billy Eppler got from the Brewers this past offseason, in exchange for Jett Bandy, has been an indispensable weapon on this middling Halos team, and not only has he come through with some nice hitting here and there, but he’s also a defensive/pitch framing stud. That’s what Eppler wanted out of him, and he’s delivering.
Want a great example? Well, you could look at this handy chart, featuring teams that are getting the “luckiest” calls and which teams are getting the shaft, and see that the Angels are near the top on the side of the chart that you want your team to be on. Make no mistake, though...that’s all Maldonado and his pitch framing:
Want another rad example of Machete’s value to this team? Well, we don’t have to look any further than tonight’s series opener in Detroit.
The Angels had a nice lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Bud Norris ended up making us all sweat bullets, allowing the Tigers to load the bases up, with two outs, and only down by two runs. The Tigers’ Alex Avila was at the plate, and he had worked a full count when Norris threw a pitch that may have been ball four, and thus a run for the Tigers, if any other catcher besides Maldonado was receiving:
That pitch was called a strike, and I think we can direct all our props and high fives to Machete on that one. What could have been a headache ended up being the strikeout that would seal the Angels win. Somewhere out there in the world, Billy Eppler gave a silent, triumphant head nod; calls like that were all part of the plan.
The Angels and Bud Norris made it a nail-biter in that final frame, but it didn’t need to be that way. Kole Calhoun was doing his best Mike Trout impression this evening, going 2-2 with a walk, a run scored and two RBIs. One of those RBIs came in the first inning, as Calhoun crushed his ninth homer of 2017, and the other came on a sac fly. That’s hero ball, right there.
Not to be outdone in the power department, our favorite Angels slugger that’s often stuck out in Salt Lake City with the Bees, C.J. Cron, also had a big fly this evening. When I say big fly, I mean BIG FLY...Cron smacked that ball 428 feet for a two-run blizzy, and it had to have felt great for him as there’s no better way to make the front office seem stupid for keeping you in AAA limbo than launching deep homers with men on. Keep on making them pay, C.J.
On the mound for the Angels, we had Jesse Chavez, who was holding his own and looking good for five innings, but then he gave up his obligatory dinger in the sixth, along with giving up an RBI single to Justin Upton. The Angels had a 4-0 shutout going up to that point, but with the score narrowed to 4-2, it was time for Chavez to take a seat and Blake Parker, Keynan Middleton and Bud Norris to take over and put the game on ice.
Parker held the Tigers in his 1.1. IP, and Middleton allowed one run off of one hit and one walk in one inning (that run was a sac fly from J.D. Martinez). That set the stage for Bud Norris, looking for his 11th save and with a 5-3 Angels lead backing him up.
That brings us back to where we started...Bud Norris getting into a heap of trouble in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded with two outs, Halos up by two...and that’s where Martin Maldonado put the kibosh on the potential Buttercup by breaking out that beautiful pitch framing.
This could have been a bad start to a road trip, but instead, the Angels got a W. They flexed some good pitching, they brought out the heavy artillery with Calhoun and Cron, and it all ended with Machete doing what he does best. I’ll take one of these types of games any day of the week. Please and thank you.