The Angels didn’t deserve the shutout. They didn’t deserve the win. This was Albert Pujols’ night, and no one wearing red that wasn’t him was allowed to walk away feeling good about the evening.
Tyler Skaggs continued to be excellent for the second consecutive start. That is 12.1 IP over the week with only 1 run allowed. He also took a crucial walk in his first plate appearance that allowed Dustin Garneau to move into scoring position so that Tommy La Stella could drive him in. If you’re Tyler Skaggs, you have every right to be proud of yourself.
But pride couldn’t possibly be what he felt. Tyler Skaggs was pulled for a pinch hitter after 5 innings with only 70 pitches, 4 hits allowed, and (yet again) 0 walks. Shohei Ohtani singled in his stead, making it worth the team’s while as Tommy La Stella came through big again to score the second run of the game. It isn’t hard, however, to picture Tyler retiring to the locker room to break anything and everything he saw. He was cruising along and could have given much needed rest to the tired bullpen, off-day tomorrow or not. Either that or he was injured, and you know he wouldn’t feel good about that.
The offense managed to string together a bunch of hits, but outside of those Tommy La Stella singles, they just could not manage to cross home plate. Luis Rengifo capped this off by failing to score after slipping and falling, ultimately getting thrown out at home. They finally managed to sequence in the 9th, but the entire night was an exercise in futility.
Fortunately for the offense, the bullpen showed up. For 3.2 further innings, the threatening Cardinals offense was quelled. Short of a Tommy Edman triple off Ty Buttrey with one out that would be left stranded, the Cardinals were completely kept off the bases.
And yet, with 1 out remaining in the game, the bullpen was the key factor that brought Angel fans to the ledge. Jake Jewell and Hansel Robles combined to completely eliminate the 4-run top of the inning that the offense had finally managed to put together. The final out came with men on 1st and 3rd as 4 runs had already scored, and the potential go-ahead walkoff run at the plate.
Paul DeJong could not take away from Pujols tonight however. He knew that a walkoff win would be upstaging one of the greatest Cardinals in history, so he grounded out. This ensured that the Cardinals, the Angels, and both teams’ fanbases had nothing to feel good about except Pujols’ final, raucous curtain call.
Now that is respect.