Angels 8 Athletics 3
The Angels welcomed the scalding Oakland Athletics back to the Big A on Thursday evening with a bucket of ice to the face. The A’s were coming in fresh off a two-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals helped by a shutout from Mengden and Co., but would find themselves symbolically marginalized by their hosts.
It wasn’t an easy start by any means. For the second consecutive start, Griffin Canning failed to put away the very first batter of the game for 10 pitches. He would allow a walk to Matt Chapman afterward, and finally walked off the mound after 26 pitches in total. It was the kind of inning that can get a guy, a team, and a fanbase down.
As if to confirm that everyone should feel bad, Ramon Laureano led off the next inning by drawing another long full count before launching one toward the rocks. Canning managed to get out of the 2nd without allowing anything else, but had already thrown 42 pitches. Things did not look up.
Of course, the lineup had something to say about that as they so often have in the month of June.
Justin Upton came up against Tanner Anderson and no one expected much. Anderson has been a righty serial killer, so seeing Justin Upton ground the ball to Marcus Semien was unsurprising. However, the bat shattered and the barrel came flying at the shortstop’s face, causing him to duck (I’m glad he did because it looked like it was going to impale his eye socket). The delay allowed Upton to reach first after he ran hard down the line.
After a wild pitch brought Upton to second, Kole Calhoun put the screws to a baseball and never called it back. The Angels were up 2-1, and this lead would not dissipate.
Griffin Canning, bursting with newfound morale, followed in the third inning with his first 1-2-3 inning of the night. The Angels did not go 1-2-3 in the next side.
In fact, 1-2-3 runs scored due exclusively to Angels bats and 2 more were added on by the classic Athletics defense bug. Tommy La Stella singled and Shohei Ohtani did the unthinkable yet again.
Dude. That pitch was down and in. That was arguably as hard to hit well as the one he crushed off Luis Severino in 2018, except he hit this one to OPPOSITE-FREAKING-FIELD. What even..?
Justin Upton then singled again without the use of a sharp wooden projectile. He continued to run the bases well, however, after another wild pitch got away. This time, he took two extra bases as he never hesitated going around 2nd. Kole Calhoun was then intentionally walked to set it up for Albert Pujols.
The thing is, he lined it into center for a single. It definitely should not have been. Maybe the third run shouldn’t even have scored because Laureano has a freaking laser cannon. But Laureano tried to get fancy and let the ball drop in front of him so he could try for a fielder’s choice (and maybe even the most bizarre LIDP you’ve ever seen) at second. He threw way offline, and Upton scored as Pujols chugged into 1st for a single that could have easily been a lineout.
The inning got even more fun somehow. Andrelton Simmons hit a long foulout to right field and both runners advanced. Yes, Pujols was safe after tagging up and sliding into second. This aggressive and alert baserunning paid dividends when Luis Rengifo found a hole to score both of the men in scoring position.
And then it was never a competition again. Griffin Canning buckled down and turned the disappointing and short appearance into a quality start, with only 3 hits allowed, 2 ER on 2 solo shots, 6 strikeouts, and that 1st inning walk. He exited with 91 pitches thrown after a full 6 innings and probably could have gone back out for the 7th. Absolutely incredible.
The Angels would score one more off brand new A Brian Schlitter who allowed an RBI single to Trout and Luis Garcia and Luke Bard would combine to not totally collapse. Tanner Anderson got whupped and Getty Images had the perfect photo to get that point across.
Talk about Tanner.