The Angels needed to stop their current 3-game skid tonight, if only to save some face in Minnesota, and set themselves up to finish the first half strong by winning their last pre-all star break series, a weekend showdown with the Rangers. It sure would be nice to have some momentum heading into Texas, even if just a smidge.
It’d take a rebound from Parker Bridwell, and a Halos lineup that was primed to slice and dice our old friend, and AL All Star, Ervin Santana. Bridwell gave us a rebound that would make Karl Malone proud, and while the Angels were tested for the entire night against Santana, they’d get just enough done at the plate, and on the base paths, to secure the crucial victory.
Ervin Santana almost made us believe we’d have a Halo Blitz or two in this one, after giving up a homer to Twins killer Kole Calhoun in the first inning. Unfortunately, Santana was not really bothered or rattled by KC’s dinger, and he would dig in and start to display that black magic we knew and loved back in Anaheim. Santana was not an easy target whatsoever, and the Halos had to deal with him for all nine frames.
Yep, Santana went the whole nine, giving up just seven hits in the process, walking two and striking out five. That’s why the dude’s an All Star right now, though, but guess what? Our young Parker Bridwell saw Ervin drop the gauntlet, and he readily accepted the challenge to a pitcher’s duel...and duel they did.
With Santana doing his thing, Bridwell was right there with him, toe-to-toe, and would six innings of four-hit baseball, while also matching Santana’s five strikeouts in fewer innings, too. Bridwell was the fast-paced spark plug that we warmed up two a month ago, but without the control and command issues that we saw in his last couple starts. This was the Bridwell we needed to see, especially considering who the Twinkies had out there. Parker Bridwell, we see you!
For awhile, the Calhoun dinger in the first was the only run on the board, but the Angels, realizing they weren’t going to be able slug their way to an insurance run with Santana pitching like he was, did some good ol’ run manufacturing...even better, it was a custom made double steal, where one of the bases stolen was home plate. That’s the best kind of run manufacturing, folks.
It was Cameron Maybin, on third, and Kole Calhoun on first, and Yunel Escobar at the dish. It was really a testament to playing heads-up baseball, with perfect timing and working in perfect concert together, something so beautiful in its precision that culminated in Maybin crossing home plate in dizzying fashion and giving the Angels a 2-0 lead. That’s quite the chasm in such a knock down, drag out pitcher’s duel, though.
Twins seemed poised to cause some problems in the seventh, with David Hernandez on in relief. They got a few hits off of Hernandez, including an RBI single from Brian Dozier, but luckily the damage was limited to that solitary run and the Halos could then hand the game over to Cam Bedrosian and Bud Norris in the eighth and ninth, respectively. Both men showed us why the Angels bullpen gets such good press, with neither giving up any hits, and Norris K’ing two batters in the ninth, all on the road to closing the game and getting the victory.
The Angels did it. It was just one game, but they did it. They defeated the Twins 2-1, with great nights from Bridwell, Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons (he had another multi-hit game), Bedrosian and Norris. Sorry Ervin Santana. Not tonight, but you put up a hell of a fight and you deserve that All Star nod, no doubt about it.
The Angels now have that smidge of momentum. They can make me a happy man and win three in Arlington.