The game was not important. The team wasn’t there to have fun. They weren’t there to get away. They weren’t there to win. The Angels filed into the dugout after a moment of silence to honor the memory of Tyler Skaggs.
David Fletcher stepped up to the plate against the fearsome Cy Young candidate that was Mike Minor and saw 8 pitches prior to blooping a fly ball into shallow center and reaching 2nd. The grind would prove to be a precedent for the remainder of the game.
But it would get worse before it would get better; for Jose Suarez was battling with control issues and fielding miscues. It’s hard to blame Upton, Rengifo, or Lucroy as bobbles, misplays, and missed tags began to pile up, allowing Suarez’s pitch count to skyrocket and 3 runs to score. The looks of excruciating frustration on the players’ faces was hard to stomach. After Elvis Andrus stole home and his third base of the game and was ruled safe after an overturned replay, it was hard not to keep from welling up with tears.
The Angels, however, never doubted that they would change the narrative. Despite struggling to plate men through Minor’s first 4 innings, they would ensure a quick pull with long, drawn-out, foul-filled plate appearances that would set the stage for the most important comeback of their lives.
Minor threw his 110th pitch to Justin Upton with 1 out in the top of the 5th for ball 4 on pitch 9. Brett Martin came in and allowed Albert Pujols to load the bases. After Tommy La Stella fouled out, it seemed that the 6th, 7th, and 8th stranded runners of the game were an inevitability. Jonathan Lucroy opted instead for redemption as he tied the game, tying his RBI total for the entire month of June in exactly one game of July.
The 6th would be beset by further sadness as Tommy La Stella was helped off the field after fouling a pitch off his leg. But the team doubled down. Justin Upton’s go-ahead RBI single was his first hit with runners in scoring position of the season. Bour, replacing La Stella with a full count, singled in two players. Finally, Jonathan Lucroy again came through, launching a sacrifice fly and surpassing his runs batted in from the previous month.
After a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 6th, the Angels would set down the Rangers over and over, but not without more bumps as Goodwin and Pujols would also get hurt while at the plate. The two were removed later on. La Stella was later said to have a shin contusion and Goodwin a wrist contusion.
Kole Calhoun would end it on a high note though as he slammed a 2 run shot. This was what it looked like when he crossed the plate.
Kole Calhoun homered. As he touched home plate, he pointed up to the sky.— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) July 3, 2019
A crowd of teammates greeted him at the dugout, including Mike Trout at the top step. The two embraced. pic.twitter.com/mCpjHCC9Cu
The team fought tooth and nail despite obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. Injuries, mistakes, and strike zone issues bent the team, but the Angels did not entertain the idea of breaking. The Halos put up the only W that ever mattered to pay their respects, and pay their respects they did.