It’s no secret that the Angels have had a rough second half of the season. They are currently 10 games out of the AL West division lead and are 4.5 games back of an AL Wild Card spot. Despite their long shot odds to make the postseason, the Halos showed last night that they are not giving up just yet.
The Angels trailed 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning as they squared off against Boston’s closer, Alfredo Aceves. Aceves held the Halos scoreless in his first inning of work in the 8th, but couldn’t fend off LA in the ninth, giving up two runs and blowing his eighth save since joining the Red Sox. The win keeps LA alive in the Wild Card race, but the Angels know they still have a long way to go.
“We’ve got 30 more games, so we’re going out there every day and grinding. We didn’t give up tonight. They got the lead early, but we kept grinding and got it done,” said Torii Hunter in an ESPN.com article. Hunter drove in the winning run on a sacrifice fly.
The Angels actually grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first with a home run from Mike Trout and a sacrifice fly from Mark Trumbo that scored Hunter. Then the Red Sox got to Jared Weaver, scoring a run off a solo shot from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the second, adding three more in the 4th and another in the 6th to make it 5-2 Boston.
The Angels looked like they were on their way to their third straight loss, but the power of the rally monkey kicked in during the bottom half of the 6th. Pujols started the inning with a solo homerun, his 29th of the season and then Howie Kendrick drove in Trumbo with a double to trim the deficit to one run, 5-4.
LA finally got Boston starter Clay Buchholz out of the game after seven innings and that’s when they went to work on Aceves.
Erick Aybar pinch-hit in the ninth and was hit by a pitch. He then stole second base, getting into scoring position. Alberto Callaspo walked, setting the stage for Mike Trout to do the damage. Trout came through with a broken-bat single that snuck through the infield, scoring Aybar and sending Callaspo to third with just one out. All Hunter needed to do was put the ball into the outfield and he did with a sac-fly to win it.
Pujols and Trout homering in a close game is a good sign for the Halos as they will need a lot more of it over the next month. However, LA’s ace Weaver uncharacteristically giving up five runs, four of them earned in seven innings was something the Angels didn’t want to see because LA will have to be pretty much perfect the rest of the way to have a shot at the postseason.
Their series with Boston continues tomorrow, as they will try to keep the momentum going after the clutch win last night. C.J. Wilson, who is 9-9 with a 3.83 ERA will get the start for the Angels and will go up against Boston’s Zach Stewart, who is making his first start for the Red Sox since coming over from the Chicago White Sox. He is 3-8 in his Major League career with a 5.92 ERA, so it appears that the Angels will have a good chance to keep things moving in the right direction. I like the Angels in this matchup. Look for their bats to heat up against the inexperienced Stewart and for them to cover the -1.5 runline.