A few weeks ago, the name "Felix Pena" wasn't what immediately came to mind when Halos fans were having passionate discussions on the state of club's starting pitching. But baseball, specifically Angels baseball, is crazy and unpredictable (though one could say that starting pitching injuries are THE only predictable thing in this sport), and you never know what names you're going to find yourself praising or heaping praise upon.
Enter Felix Pena, who made his MLB debut tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks and he definitely turned some heads with his performance. Pena ended up only going 4.0 innings, but he flashed enough sizzle in his pitching arsenal to get more looks, make no mistake. In those four innings, he only gave up two hits and just one run, and sure, he walked three batters but he also K'd six of them, which is nothing to downplay at all.
Pena's one run came on a ground out in the first, but an Ian Kinsler bomb shortly after would tie the game up at 1-1. That's how things looked when Pena was lifted for Jose Alvarez, so he'd have to settle for a no-decision in his debut. As for Alvarez, he did about what you'd expect, which is allow a run to score, but that was quickly forgotten when the Halos put up three on AZ in the bottom of the fifth.
With the bases loaded, Mike Trout smacked the first pitch he saw, driving in two runs and then another scored thanks to a throwing error. The Angels had pulled ahead 4-2, which is good, but considering they were already dipping into their bullpen, that score was not to be taken for granted.
What they'd need is an insurance run, and who better to deliver that insurance run than just-activated Kole Calhoun? It was nice seeing The Red Baron back in the lineup for the Angels, and it was even nicer seeing him go yard in the bottom of the sixth. It was Calhoun's first dinner in 176 ABs, and it came at quite the fortunate time. With a 5-2 lead, the Angels set out to hold on to that lead with everything they had, and avoid another series loss.
The bullpen was up to the task in the seventh and eighth innings, but a Paul Goldschmidt two-run jack in the ninth, off of Blake Parker, made things uncomfortably close, naturally. That's where Calhoun's home run started to pay dividends, as that Goldschmidt blast would have otherwise been a game-tying bummer. Instead it was just a frustrating, but inconsequential, bummer.
The Angels got the win in the end, 5-4, and got the series split, thankfully. Felix Pena had himself a solid MLB debut and Kole Calhoun reminded us that he's still around and that we still love him. Oh, and then there's Mike Trout, who continues his insane pace of demolishing opposing pitching. In his last eight games, Trout's been on base 28 out of 36 ABs and has put up an OPS of 1.261. Dude's on another planet, unsurprisingly.
A solid win for the Angels, sure beats another series loss. I'll take it.