By Ryan W. Krol (Founder)
The Los Angeles Angels have inked catcher Geovany Soto to a one-year contract for the 2016 season. The club announced the move today amidst a flurry of font office changes.
Soto, 32, has been a serviceable backstop (with pop) for the Cubs, Rangers, A’s, and White Sox. This past season his offensive numbers fell a bit, to a .219 batting average, and a .301 on-base percentage. However, his power remained, as he slugged .406 in 78 games.
The right-handed hitting (and throwing) Soto has a .246 / .331 / .434 slash line for his career. He also had a 30% caught stealing rate in 2015, and has a 27% rating for his career. Not bad.
The Angels have been in need of filling a hole at the catcher position to replenish production lost from a down year in ’15 by Chris Iannetta, as well as him walking via free agency and signing with the Seattle Mariners. This move also adds depth, as the Halos also have the young Carlos Perez to pair with Soto, as well as prospect Jett Bandy in AAA.
Soto will receive $2.8 million in 2016. So the signing puts the club at about $20 million below the luxury tax threshold, and provides a low-cost solution at the catcher position, giving them more money to pursue possibly more expensive options in other areas.
Angels announce pitching coach Mike Butcher and hitting coach Don Baylor will not return for 2016 season
Aaron Forstner/The Halos Network
ANAHEIM – New Angels General Manager Billy Eppler announced Tuesday that both pitching coach Mike Butcher and hitting coach Don Baylor will not be returning to the Angels dugout in 2016. While parting ways with Butcher is said to be “mutual”, Baylor’s contract is being allowed to expire and will not be renewed.
“Don’s career with the Angels is one that has embodied commitment, dedication and leadership,” Eppler said in a statement. “From his MVP season in 1979, subsequent induction into the Angels Hall of Fame, and eventual return as hitting coach, Don will always remain synonymous with Angels Baseball.”
This is not expected to have any impact on manager Mike Scioscia‘s decision to forego his opt-out clause and return to the Angels dugout in 2016, as he announced just after the Angels were eliminated from the postseason on October 5. The Angels are faced with many decisions once the World Series concludes. Outfielders David Murphy ($7M) and David DeJesus ($5M) have club options, and the Angels also have several players due to hit the free agent market including 3rd baseman David Freese, catcher Chris Iannetta, and others. It looks like they will now have to add a new pitching & hitting coach to their shopping list as well. Welcome to the big chair, Billy Eppler!
Angels walkoff again to win 6th straight, AL West race gets tighter
Aaron Forstner/The Halos Network
ANAHEIM – The Angels began their final home series of the 2015 season Monday night as they took on the Oakland Athletics in the first of a 3-game set. The matchup pitted Angel starter Hector Santiago against the A’s Felix Doubront in a matchup of southpaws. It was a back-and-forth battle all night long, but in the end the Angels prevailed on a walkoff single by David Murphy to win 5-4 and gain ground in the AL West.
The A’s struck first in the top of the first inning as Santiago’s control was a little erratic to start off the game. Billy Burns led off the game with a single, then Santiago hit Mark Canha with a pitch. After Brett Lawrie legged out a potential double play ball to put runners on 1st & 3rd with 1 out, Santiago issued a walk to Danny Valencia to load the bases. Billy Butler then hit a shallow fly into right-center that was caught by Mike Trout, but Billy Burns was indecisive about tagging on the flyout and the Angels had him caught in a rundown. Unfortunately however, first baseman C.J. Cron dropped the ball when attempting to make the tag and Burns was able to slide in for the score to give the A’s a 1-0 lead.
After a bit of a wild 1st inning, Hector Santiago was able to settle down and the score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the 3rd inning when the Angels broke through against Doubront. Chris Iannetta led off the inning with a walk, then Johnny Giavotella and Erick Aybar hit back-to-back doubles off Doubront to plate a pair and give the Angels a 2-1 lead.
It didn’t take long for the A’s to strike back as with 2 out and nobody on in the top of the 4th inning, A’s shortstop Marcus Semien got a hanging changeup from Santiago on a 1-2 pitch and drilled it into the A’s bullpen in left field to tie the game 2-2. It was Semien’s 14th home run of the season.
The Angels struck right back in the bottom of the 4th inning however as C.J. Cron led off the inning with a single and David Freese followed by working a walk. Shane Victorino then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Freese & Cron up to 2nd & 3rd with just 1 out. That’s when Chris Iannetta hit a fly ball to medium center field, allowing Freese & Cron to tag on the play. Freese ended up being thrown out at 3rd to end the inning, but not before Cron was able to score to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.
After both teams failed to score in the 5th, the A’s once again broke through in the top of the 6th. Hector Santiago hit Brett Lawrie with a pitch to lead off the inning, then after a Danny Valencia flyout, Billy Butler hit a double to put runners on 2nd & 3rd with 1 out. That’s when Jake Smolinski lifted a fly ball out to right field that allowed Lawrie to score to tie the game at 3, and Butler to advance to 3rd base. That would end the night for Santiago as manager Mike Scioscia lifted him in favor of reliever Cory Rasmus. Rasmus then issued a walk to Marcus Semien and Scioscia then brought in reliever Jose Alvarez to face Craig Gentry. A’s manager Bob Melvin then countered by sending up pinch-hitter Coco Crisp. Crisp was able to bloop a single into right field to score Butler and give the A’s a 4-3 lead.
The Angels would again strike right back in the bottom of the 6th however, as with 1 out and nobody on, Albert Pujols got an 0-1 fastball right down the middle from Doubront and drilled it into the rock pile in left-center to re-tie the game at 4. It was Pujols’ 38th home run of the season and 558th of his career.
The score remained 4-4 through the 7th & 8th innings until the Angels came to bat in the bottom of the 9th against Oakland reliever Edward Mujica. C.J. Cron led off the inning with a single and was then lifted for pinch-runner Collin Cowgill. David Freese then reached on a throwing error by Mujica that allowed Cowgill & Freese to advance to 2nd & 3rd with nobody out. Mujica then intentionally walked Shane Victorino to load the bases. That set up a showdown between Mujica & Chris Iannetta with the bases loaded, but Mike Scioscia had other plans. He sent pinch-hitter David Murphy to hit for Iannetta, and Bob Melvin countered by going to his bullpen to bring in lefty Fernando Abad. Here’s what happened next:
Another walkoff!!! Murphy was able to slap a grounder through the A’s drawn-in infield to score Cowgill and give the Angels the 5-4 victory!!
It was yet another uplifting emotional win for the Angels in a week that has seen a few of them. In the end, Santiago ended up giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on just 3 hits over his 5 2/3 innings of work, and Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian and Trevor Gott all got key late outs to keep the score tied to set the stage in the 9th inning.
On the A’s side, Doubront ended up giving up 4 runs on 4 hits over 6 innings of work, and former Angel Fernando Rodriguez tossed a scoreless inning. Daniel Coulombe contributed a scoreless 1/3 inning, but Mujica ended up taking the loss as the 9th inning run was charged to him.
Houston, Minnesota win, Texas loses
With the win the Angels were able to keep pace with 2nd Wild Card leading Houston as the Astros defeated Seattle 3-2 Monday night, so the Angels are still a half-game behind Houston. The Twins were also able to keep pace and stay a game behind the Angels with their 4-2 victory over Cleveland. AL West leading Texas fell 7-4 to Detroit however, so the AL West race got a little tighter. The Astros move to 1.5 games behind Texas while the Angels find themselves just 2 back of the division lead with 6 to play – 4 of which are against Texas after this Oakland series concludes.
The Angels will continue the series with Oakland Tuesday night with the 2nd of the 3 games. The Angels will send Nick Tropeano (2-2, 4.35) to the mound in place of Matt Shoemaker (7-10, 4.46) as Shoemaker continues to deal with lingering forearm soreness. The A’s will counter with Chris Bassitt (1-7, 3.07). Tuesday’s game begins at 7:05pm PT.
Oakland Athletics (65-91, 5th AL West) @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (81-74, 3rd AL West)
Angel Stadium of Anaheim – Anaheim, CA
Weather Forecast @ 1st Pitch: Clear, 80F, Wind W 6mph (Out to RF) 6mph, 0% Chance of Rain
Felix Doubront (3-3, 5.53 ERA)
After failing to make the Cubs’ opening day roster out of spring training and signing a minor-league contract with Toronto in mid-April, Doubront did not make his season debut until July 3 with Toronto. He was then sent to Oakland for cash considerations on July 31 and has been pitching out of Oakland’s rotation since August 18. In 7 starts with Oakland Doubront has posted a 2-2 record and a 6.43 ERA as he’s been really up & down over that stretch. His last start was Wednesday against Texas and it wasn’t a good one. In that game Doubront gave up 7 runs on 8 hits in just 4 2/3 innings to take the loss in a game the A’s lost 10-3.
Hector Santiago (9-9, 3.47 ERA)
In what has been quite a whirlwind season for Santiago, he comes into tonight’s game looking for his 10th win of the season and will also be looking to build on the bounce-back performance he showed in his last start after having his worst outing of the year two starts ago. On September 17 in Minnesota, Santiago was rocked for 5 runs in just 2/3 of an inning in a game the Angels came back to win 11-8. Hector’s last start was much better however as he held the Astros to 2 runs on 4 hits over 5 innings on Tuesday to take the win in a game the Angels won 4-3.
- Oakland will send southpaw Felix Doubront to the mound for Monday’s series opener at The Big A. Doubront allowed four earned runs over six innings in a winning effort against the Angels on Aug. 31 but has been inconsistent since the A’s acquired him midseason. In seven starts with Oakland, Doubront is 2-2 with a 6.43 ERA and 33 walks vs. 16 strikeouts in 35 innings.
- The last time Angels lefty Hector Santiago squared off against Doubront and the A’s on Aug. 31, he didn’t make it out of the third inning en route to an 11-5 loss. But Santiago (9-9, 3.47) is on the verge of becoming a 10-game winner for the first time in his career while setting a season-low in ERA as a starter. He posted a 3.56 ERA in 34 appearances (23 starts) with the White Sox in 2013.
- The Angels will likely have to go the final week of the season without their top two arms at the back of the bullpen. Huston Street injured his groin Saturday and setup man Joe Smith has been out with an ankle injury since Sept. 17. On Sunday, right-hander Mike Morin retired Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Jesus Montero to pick up his first career save and preserve a 3-2 win against Seattle.
- CF-Billy Burns – .298
- 1B-Mark Canha – .254
- 2B-Brett Lawrie – .264
- 3B-Danny Valencia – .295
- DH-Billy Butler – .252
- LF-Jake Smolinski – .192
- SS-Marcus Semien – .256
- RF-Craig Gentry – .093
- C-Bryan Anderson – .000
- SS-Erick Aybar – .269
- RF-Kole Calhoun – .262
- CF-Mike Trout – .297
- DH-Albert Pujols – .237
- 1B-C.J. Cron – .266
- 3B-David Freese – .258
- LF-Shane Victorino – .226
- C-Chris Iannetta – .188
- 2B-Johnny Giavotella – .269
AL West Standings:
- Texas: 84-71
- Houston: 82-74 – 2.5 GB – E5
- Angels: 81-74 – 3 GB – E5
- Seattle: 74-82 – Eliminated
- Oakland: 65-91 – Eliminated
AL Wild Card Standings:
- East: Toronto – 90-65
- Central: Kansas City – 90-65 – AL Central Champions
- West: Texas – 84-71
- New York: 86-69 – +4.5 G
- Houston: 82-74
- Angels: 81-74 – 0.5 GB – E7
- Minnesota: 80-75 – 1.5 GB – E6
- Cleveland: 77-77 – 4 GB – E4
- Baltimore: 76-79 – 5.5 GB – E2
- Boston: 75-80 – 6.5 GB – E1
AL Contender Matchups:
- Boston @ New York – 4:05pm PT
- Toronto @ Baltimore – 4:10pm PT
- Minnesota @ Cleveland – 4:10pm PT
- Detroit @ Texas – 5:05pm PT
- Houston @ Seattle – 7:10pm PT
Angels hold off Astros, keep slim playoff hopes alive
Aaron Forstner/The Halos Network
HOUSTON – In what was a must-win game if the Angels were to maintain any realistic hope of catching the Astros in the chase for the 2nd Wild Card spot in the American League, a pair of first inning home runs by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols along with a solid effort from starter Hector Santiago and the Angel bullpen helped the Angels pull out a victory Tuesday night to keep those playoff hopes alive. Santiago pitched into the 6th inning and the bullpen was able to hold off a couple of late-inning rallies to give the Angels a 4-3 victory.
The Angels opened up the scoring in the top of the 1st inning when after Erick Aybar led off the inning with a single, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs to give the Angels a 3-0 lead. For Trout, it was his 40th home run of the season marking the first time in his career he’s reached the 40-home run plateu, and the first time an Angel has hit 40 home runs since Troy Glaus hit 41 in 2001. It was also Trout’s 138th career home run, the most ever by a center fielder through his age 23 season. For Pujols, it was his 36th of the season and 556th of his career, moving him past Manny Ramirez into sole possession of 14th on the all-time home run leaderboard.
The Astros struck back in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Marwin Gonzalez and Chris Carter connected on back-to-back home runs of their own. Both were solo shots and the pair of home runs cut the Angel lead to 3-2. It was Gonzalez’s 11th home run of the season, and Carter’s 20th home run of the season.
After all of the home runs over the first two innings, things settled down through the middle innings. Astros’ starter Lance McCullers settled down and allowed just 1 more hit after the 1st inning home runs, and Hector Santiago also settled down and kept the Astros off the board in the 3rd, 4th & 5th innings. Things then got a bit interesting for Santiago in the bottom of the 6th inning as after issuing a leadoff walk to Marwin Gonzalez, Angel manager Mike Scioscia came out of the dugout to take Santiago out of the game. On his way off the field, rather than heading toward the dugout Santiago got into a heated exchange with home plate umpire Chris Conroy, presumably over ball & strike calls. At the end of the exchange Santiago was ejected from the game even though he’d already been pulled by Scioscia. Angel reliever Fernando Salas was able to come in and complete the 6th inning without allowing any runs.
After both teams failed to score in the 7th, the score remained 3-2 heading to the 8th. In the top of the 8th inning after a leadoff double by Chris Iannetta, a single by David DeJesus, and a sac bunt by Erick Aybar put runners on 2nd & 3rd, Kole Calhoun flared a single into left field to score Iannetta and extend the Angel lead to 4-2. That would be all the Angels would get in the inning however and the game moved to the bottom of the 8th with the score still 4-2 Angels. That’s when Jed Lowrie led off the inning with a single and was eventually moved over to 3rd on a pair of groundouts. At that point, Angel closer Huston Street was brought in to get the 4-out save, and with Luis Valbuena batting Street unleashed a wild pitch that allowed Lowrie to score to cut the Angel lead to 4-3. That would conclude the scoring for both teams on the evening as Street would go on to intentionally walk Valbuena, strike out Jake Marisnick to end the 8th, and post a scoreless 9th inning to end the game.
Overall, Angel starter Hector Santiago was a bit wild, but managed to pitch out of jams over his 5+ innnigs of work He was charged with 2 runs on 4 hits, but walked 5. Angel relievers Fernando Salas, Trevor Gott, Jose Alvarez and Huston Street posted a combined 4 innings of 1-run ball with Street notching his 39th save of the season. Houston starter Lance McCullers ended up giving up 3 runs on 4 hits over his 7 innings of work, and Houston relievers Chad Qualls, Joe Thatcher, Pat Neshek, and Will Harris combined to post 2 innings of 1-run ball in the losing effort.
Angels keep playoff hopes alive
With the victory the Angels pulled back to 2.5 games behind the Astros for the 2nd and final AL Wild Card spot. With only 11 games left on the schedule and only one more against Houston this season, the Angels are certainly in must-win mode from here on out if they are to have any hope of catching the Astros to snag a playoff spot. Minnesota and Texas both won as well on Tuesday, so the Angels remain 0.5 games behind Minnesota in the Wild Card standings, and 4.5 games behind Texas in the AL West.
The Angels will resume their series in Houston on Wednesday with the rubber match beginning at 11:10am Pacific Time. It’s another must-win for the Angels as they can ill afford to fall 3.5 games behind Houston in the Wild Card chase. With a victory they can pull to within 1.5 games and keep their playoff hopes alive. They will hand the ball to Nick Tropeano (2-2, 5.06) as due to Saturday’s doubleheader the Angels need to use a 6th starter even though Matt Shoemaker made his return Sunday. The Astros will counter with Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.64) who has gone 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA (including a no-hitter) with Houston since being acquired from Milwaukee in a July 30 trade.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (74-72, 3rd AL West) @ Minnesota Twins (75-71, 2nd AL Central)
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
Weather Forecast @ 1st Pitch: Partly Cloudy, 66F, Winds SW 6mph, 0% Chance of Rain
Garrett Richards (13-11, 3.81 ERA)
Richards had been pitching quite well through the months of August and September other than that bump in the road against Toronto where, let’s face it, none of the Angel pitchers fared very well in that series. From August 8 through September 9 Richards posted 6 quality starts out of 7, with the Toronto game being the outlier. Richards didn’t fare so well his last time out Monday in Seattle however, as he struggled with his command and gave up 4 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks while throwing 100 pitches in just 5 innings. It was an ugly game overall for the Angels as Richards suffered his 11th loss of the season and the Angels went down by the final score of 10-1.
Mike Pelfrey (6-9, 4.09 ERA)
Pelfrey has certainly had his ups & downs so far this season, but has pitched effectively overall for the Twins. In a 3-start stretch before his last start he had a bit of a rough patch where he went 0-2 with a 10.22 ERA over that span. That rough patch came on the heels of a 6-start stretch in which he posted a 2.55 ERA. Pelfrey’s last start was 10 days ago in Kansas City. In that game he held the Royals to 1 run on 5 hits over 5 1/3 innings, but ended up with a no-decision as the Twins eventually won the game 3-2, but not until after he left the game.
- Pelfrey will be working on extra rest on Saturday having not started since Sept. 9 against the Royals. He took a no-decision in that game, giving up one run in 5 1/3 innings.
- Minnesota manager Paul Molitor made a late change to his rotation following Friday’s rainout. He originally said Pelfrey would start the first game but later switched Pelfrey to the later start. Molitor was unavailable to explain the switch, but the pitchers’ splits might tell the story. Gibson owns a 3.58 ERA in day games this season as opposed to a 3.80 mark at night. Pelfrey’s numbers show a more dramatic difference. Pelfrey owns a 3.97 ERA at night compared to 4.37 during the day.
- Los Angeles’ two big bats, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, will try to break some tough luck against Pelfrey. Pujols has hit just .235 in 17 career at-bats against Pelfrey and hasn’t homered against the big right-hander. Trout hasn’t faced Pelfrey as much, but has been held to just one hit in seven at-bats for a .143 average.
- SS-Erick Aybar – .266
- RF-Kole Calhoun – .261
- CF-Mike Trout – .292
- DH-Albert Pujols – .238
- LF-David Murphy – .287
- 3B-David Freese – .258
- C-Chris Iannetta – .185
- 1B-Efren Navarro – .256
- 2B-Taylor Featherston – .173
- 2B-Brian Dozier – .237
- 1B-Joe Mauer – .267
- DH-Miguel Sano – .279
- 3B-Trevor Plouffe – .250
- RF-Torii Hunter – .244
- LF-Eddie Rosario – .271
- SS-Eduardo Nunez – .269
- C-Chris Herrmann – .153
- SS-Byron Buxton – .200
AL West Standings:
- Texas: 79-68
- Houston: 77-71 – 2.5 GB – E13
- Angels: 75-72 – 4 GB – E12
- Seattle: 72-76 – 7.5 GB – E8
- Oakland: 64-84 – Eliminated
AL Wild Card Standings:
- East: Toronto – 85-62
- Central: Kansas City – 86-61
- West: Texas – 79-68
- New York: 81-66 – +4.5 G
- Houston: 77-71
- Angels: 75-72 – 1.5 GB – E14
- Minnesota: 75-72 – 1.5 GB – E14
- Cleveland: 73-73 – 3 GB – E13
- Baltimore: 72-75 – 4.5 GB – E11
- Seattle: 72-76 – 5 GB – E10
- Tampa Bay: 71-76 – 5.5 GB – E10
- Boston: 69-77 – 7 GB – E9
- Chicago: 69-77 – 7 GB – E9
- Detroit: 68-78 – 8 GB – E8
- Oakland: 64-84 – 13 GB – E2
AL Contender Matchups:
- N.Y. Yankees 5, N.Y. Mets 0 – F
- Boston @ Toronto – 1:07pm Pacific
- Kansas City @ Detroit – 4:08pm Pacific
- Oakland @ Houston – 4:10pm Pacific
- Seattle @ Texas – 5:05pm Pacific
The pennant races are getting red hot! The Angels are still within striking distance of a playoff spot. The club had a successful homestand, considered their most important of the season. And we have more information from Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register in the Angels Weekly Podcast, and right here in our newest weekly running post of ‘Fletch’s Reports’!
- Turns out that Kole Calhoun has quietly thrust himself into an elite right fielder.
Angels win wild one in Minnesota, gain ground in Wild Card chase
Aaron Forstner/The Halos Network
MINNEAPOLIS – In what became a wild game up at Target Field on Thursday night, it was looking like it was going to be a long night for the Halos after the first inning. Angel starter Hector Santiago was unable to make it out of the first inning, and by the time the first inning was over the Angels found themselves down 5-0. They would quickly bounce back with a 6-run second inning, which was capped off by Mike Trout‘s 4th career grand slam, and his 2nd of this season. Twins’ starter Tommy Milone was unable to make it out of the second inning, and by the end of the night the Angels found themselves on the winning end of what became a slugfest, as they defeated the Twins by the final score of 11-8.
As stated, the Twins opened up the scoring in the bottom of the first inning as they jumped on Santiago quickly. Brian Dozier started off the rally with one of the strangest doubles you’ll ever see. He hit a towering pop-up to the right side of the infield, and both second baseman Taylor Featherston and first baseman C.J. Cron lost it in the twilight. Shortstop Erick Aybar hustled to try to make the play once he realized neither Featherston or Cron knew where it was, but he wasn’t able to get there in time and it dropped in. By the time anyone was able to pick it up, Dozier had hustled up to 2nd base and was credited with a double. Joe Mauer then followed that up with a single to right field that scored Dozier to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. After Miguel Sano grounded into a fielder’s choice that advanced Mauer to 2nd and Trevor Plouffe walked, old friend Torii Hunter came to bat with Mauer on 2nd and Plouffe on 1st. Hunter promptly blasted an 0-1 offering into the upper deck in left field for a 3-run home run that expanded the Twins lead to 4-0. It was Hunter’s 20th home run of the season. Eddie Rosario then followed that up with a triple, and Kurt Suzuki drilled a ball into the right-center gap for an RBI double that expanded the Twins lead to 5-0. That turned out to be a knockout blow for Angels starter Hector Santiago, as manager Mike Scioscia came to get him and brought Mike Morin into the game to finish off the inning.
It didn’t take long for the Angels to answer back, as they opened up their own scoring in the top of the 2nd inning. David Freese led off the inning by lacing a double into the right-center gap, then Chris Iannetta followed that up with an RBI single up the middle to cut the Twins lead to 5-1. The Angels then loaded the bases on back-to-back singles by Taylor Featherston and Erick Aybar for Kole Calhoun. Calhoun then worked an RBI walk to cut the Twins lead to 5-2, and Twins manager Paul Molitor had apparently seen all he wanted to see from Milone at that point, as he came to get Milone after just 1 1/3 innings and brought in reliever A.J. Achter. The pitching change certainly didn’t bother Mike Trout, as Trout then blasted Achter’s 3rd pitch deep over the wall in right-center field for a grand slam that gave the Angels a 6-5 lead. With the blast Trout set a new career high home run total of 37.
After Mike Morin gave the Angels a scoreless bottom of the 2nd, the Angels would open up the scoring again in the top of the 3rd. After Shane Victorino led off the inning with a single, Taylor Featherston launched a 0-1 Achter offering deep into the seats in left field to expand the Angels lead to 8-5. It was Featherson’s 2nd home run of the season.
The Twins would answer back against Angel reliever Cory Rasmus in the bottom of the 3rd however, as after a 1-out single by Torii Hunter and a 2-out walk by Kurt Suzuki put runners on 1st & 2nd, Eddie Rosario drove an RBI single into right field to plate Hunter and cut the Angel lead to 8-6.
The Angels answered right back in the top of the 4th when Mike Trout led off the inning by drilling a 2-2 pitch for a line-drive home run, his 38th of the season and 2nd of the night, over the left field wall off of Minnesota reliever Ryan O’Rourke to expand the Angel lead to 9-5.
The Twins then answered right back in the bottom of the 4th as after a 2-out double by Miguel Sano and a single by Trevor Plouffe off of Angel reliever Fernando Salas put runners on 1st & 3rd for Torii Hunter, Hunter hit a grounder up the 3rd base line that David Freese misplayed, allowing Sano to score and cut the Angel lead to 9-7.
Things then settled down a bit as both teams failed to score in the 5th. The Angels put up another run in the top of the 6th however as after Mike Trout worked a 1-out walk and advanced to 2nd on a balk by Minnesota reliever J.R. Graham, C.J. Cron bounced a 1-1 pitch through the right side to plate Trout and expand the Angel lead to 10-7.
The score remained 10-7 until the top of the 7th when Chris Iannetta led off the inning by launching an absolute bomb into the upper deck in left field off of Minnesota reliever Neal Cotts to expand the Angel lead to 11-7. It was Iannetta’s 9th home run of the season.
The Twins tacked on one more run in the bottom of the 8th when Aaron Hicks launched a long home run into right field off of Angel reliever Joe Smith to cut the Angel lead to 11-8. It was Hicks’ 11th home run of the season, and would finally conclude the scoring for both teams on the evening.
As one would imagine, in a game that ended with the score 11-8, the pitching numbers weren’t pretty on either side. For the Angels, starter Hector Santiago was charged with 5 earned runs on 5 hits in his 2/3 of an inning. The Angels went on to use 8 relievers in the game beginning with Mike Morin who posted 1 1/3 scoreless innings and was credited as the winning pitcher as he was the pitcher of record when the Angels took the lead. Cory Rasmus followed giving up a run in his inning of work, and Fernando Salas gave up a run in his 2/3 of an inning. Wesley Wright posted a scoreless 1/3 of an inning, Cam Bedrosian posted a scoreless inning, and Trevor Gott gave the Angels 2 scoreless innings. Joe Smith gave up a run in his inning, setting up a save situation for Huston Street, who notched his 36th save of the season with a scoreless 9th inning.
For the Twins, starter Tommy Milone was charged with 5 earned runs on 4 hits in his 1 1/3 innings of work. The Twins then used 5 relievers as A.J. Achter was charged with 3 earned runs in his inning of work and was the losing pitcher. Ryan O’Rourke, J.R. Graham and Neal Cotts gave up a run each. O’Rourke worked 1 2/3 innings, Graham worked 2 innings, and Cotts worked 1 inning. Michael Tonkin also added 2 scoreless innings to finish off the evening for Minnesota.
Angels gain ground in Wild Card chase
With the Texas Rangers completing the 4-game sweep of Houston with an 8-2 victory on Thursday, the Angels pulled to 2.5 games behind Houston for the 2nd Wild Card spot in the AL. The Angels also pulled to 1 game behind Minnesota with their victory. The Angels remain 5 games behind 1st place Texas in the AL West. Houston begins a 3-game weekend series at home against Oakland Friday while Texas begins a 3-game weekend series at home against Seattle.
The Angels will continue their weekend series in Minnesota on Friday with the 2nd game of the series. The Angels will hand the ball to Andrew Heaney (6-3, 3.32) while the Twins will counter with Mike Pelfrey (6-9, 4.09). Friday’s game begins at 5:10pm Pacific Time.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (73-72, 3rd AL West) @ Minnesota Twins (75-69, 2nd AL Central)
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
Weather Forecast @ 1st Pitch: Thunderstorms, 74F, Winds W 8mph, 30% Chance of Rain
Hector Santiago (8-9, 3.21 ERA)
Santiago has had a rough go of it during the 2nd half of the season after a stellar performance over the 1st half that earned him his first ever trip to the All-Star Game. Over an 8-start stretch from July 25 through August 31 Santiago posted an 0-5 record and 6.46 ERA over 39 innings and there were concerns that Santiago had reached his limit in terms of innings pitched as he exceeded his previous career high set in 2014. Santiago has been able to bounce back in the month of September however, as over his last 2 starts he’s allowed just 2 earned runs over 13 innings. In his last start on Saturday against Houston, Santiago held the Astros to 2 runs on 5 hits over 7 innings in a game the Angels won 3-2.
Tommy Milone (8-5, 3.73 ERA)
While Milone hasn’t exactly set the stat sheet on fire this season, he has been one of the more consistent starters in the Twins’ rotation all year long. He has allowed more than 4 earned runs in a start just twice all season, and he will be making his 21st start of the season this evening. Milone’s last start on Saturday was a bit shaky however, as he lasted just 3 2/3 innings in a game where he gave up 7 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks to the White Sox and took the loss in a game the Twins lost 8-2.
- Thursday’s start will mark Santiago’s ninth career appearance and fifth start against the Twins. He is 2-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 27 2/3 innings pitched. He has not faced Minnesota this season.
- The Twins and Angels both had long nights Wednesday. The Angels boarded a night flight from Seattle, and the Twins played a 12-inning game that started nearly an hour late due to a rain delay and lasted more than four hours.
- Twins setup man Trevor May was unavailable with tenderness in his back and hip but Twins manager Paul Molitor said he was hopeful May would be available on Thursday.
- SS-Erick Aybar – .268
- RF-Kole Calhoun – .264
- CF-Mike Trout – .292
- DH-Albert Pujols – .241
- 1B-C.J. Cron – .269
- 3B-David Freese – .252
- LF-Shane Victorino – .224
- C-Chris Iannetta – .180
- 2B-Taylor Featherston – .150
- CF-Aaron Hicks – .263
- 2B-Brian Dozier – .236
- 1B-Joe Mauer – .269
- DH-Miguel Sano – .281
- 3B-Trevor Plouffe – .250
- RF-Torii Hunter – .241
- LF-Eddie Rosario – .270
- C-Kurt Suzuki – .240
- SS-Eduardo Escobar – .265
AL West Standings:
- Texas: 78-67
- Houston: 77-69 – 1.5 GB – E16
- Angels: 73-72 – 5 GB – E13
- Seattle: 71-76 – 8 GB – E9
- Oakland: 63-84 – 16 GB – E1
AL Wild Card Standings:
- East: Toronto – 83-62
- Central: Kansas City – 85-60
- West: Texas – 78-67
- New York: 80-65 – +3.5 G
- Houston: 77-69
- Minnesota: 75-70 – 1.5 GB – E16
- Angels: 73-72 – 3.5 GB – E14
- Cleveland: 72-72 – 4 GB – E14
- Baltimore: 71-74 – 5.5 GB – E12
- Seattle: 71-76 – 6.5 GB – E10
- Tampa Bay: 70-75 – 6.5 GB – E11
- Boston: 69-76 – 7.5 GB – E10
- Chicago: 69-76 – 7.5 GB – E10
- Detroit: 67-78 – 9.5 GB – E8
- Oakland: 63-84 – 14.5 GB – E2
AL Contender Matchups:
- Kansas City @ Cleveland – 4:10pm Pacific
- Toronto @ Atlanta – 4:10pm Pacific
- Houston @ Texas – 5:05pm Pacific
Murphy, Trout power Angels past King Felix & the Mariners, AL West standings shaken up
By: Aaron Forstner/The Halos Network
SEATTLE – Coming off a pair of embarrassing defeats on Sunday and Monday, the Angels were able to bounce back against Felix Hernandez and the Mariners on Tuesday. Powered by home runs off the bats of David Murphy and Mike Trout along with a solid outing from spot starter Nick Tropeano, the Angels were able to take down King Felix and the Mariners by the final score of 4-3.
The Mariners opened up the scoring in the bottom of the first when Nelson Cruz connected for a 2-out solo home run to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. It was Cruz’s 42nd home run of the season, which ties him with Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the MLB lead, and is the most home runs hit in one season by a Mariner since 1999 when Ken Griffey, Jr. hit 48 and Alex Rodriguez hit 42.
The score stayed 1-0 until the top of the 3rd inning when Hernandez hit David Freese with a pitch to start off the inning. Freese, who missed significant time this season due to a broken wrist suffered from being hit by a pitch, had a few choice words for Hernandez on his way up the 1st base line, which prompted home plate umpire Alan Porter to warn both benches and seemed to get the Angel dugout pretty fired up. After that, Carlos Perez followed with a little squibber out to Mariners 2nd baseman Ketel Marte, but Marte wasn’t able to make a play on it and Perez was credited with an infield single putting runners at 1st and 2nd for David Murphy, who was surprisingly put in the leadoff spot for Tuesday’s game. Murphy then promptly blasted a line-drive shot off the top of the wall in right field, which bounced into the stands for a 3-run home run to give the Angels a 3-1 lead.
The score stayed 3-1 until the bottom of the 4th when Franklin Gutierrez came to bat with 2-out and Seth Smith on 1st base. Gutierrez drilled a line drive into left-center field, but Murphy was able to cut it off before it reached the wall. At that point Murphy threw it in toward 2nd base and Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, acting as the cutoff man, was a bit nonchalant getting it back to the infield and Smith took advantage and scored all the way from 1st base on the play to cut the Angels lead down to 3-2.
The score stayed 3-2 until the top of the 6th inning when Mike Trout led off the inning by blasting an 0-2 pitch over the wall in left-center field to give the Angels a 4-2 lead. The solo home run was Trout’s 36th of the season, tying a career-high that he set last season.
The score remained 4-2 until the bottom of the 7th when Franklin Gutierrez led off the inning with his 13th home run of the season off of Angel reliever Fernando Salas to cut the Angel lead to 4-3. That would conclude the scoring for both teams on the evening as Trevor Gott pitched a scoreless 8th inning and Joe Smith notched his 3rd save of the season in the 9th inning with Huston Street unavailable due to flu-like symptoms. Street hopes to be available should a save situation arise in Wednesday’s game, but the Angels may rest him for one more day as a precaution.
On the evening, Tropeano ended up giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks in his 5 innings of work to earn his 2nd victory of the season. Jose Alvarez pitched a scoreless 6th inning while Salas gave up the 1 run in the 7th and the aforementioned Gott & Smith pitched scoreless 8th & 9th innings respectively. On Seattle’s side, Hernandez ended up giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in his 7 innings of work, and reliever Tony Zych followed with two scoreless innings for Seattle. Angels catcher Carlos Perez posted a 3-hit game, including a pair of doubles, to raise his season batting average to .233. Perez has started each of the last 9 games behind the plate for the Angels and it seems quite apparent that he has taken the starting catching job away from Chris Iannetta for the time being.
AL West Standings Shaken Up:
With their 6-5 walkoff victory over Houston Tuesday night, the Texas Rangers have taken sole possession of 1st place in the AL West. At 73-71 the Angels remain 4 games behind Texas, who now hold the division lead, and are 3.5 games behind Houston, who now hold the 2nd Wild Card spot. The Angels are also 2 games behind the Minnesota Twins, with whom they have a 4-game weekend series at Target Field starting Thursday night.
The Angels will finish up this 3-game set in Seattle Wednesday night. They will hand the ball to Jered Weaver (7-10, 4.71) for the series finale while Seattle will counter with Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4, 4.05). Weaver has started out the month of September well, posting 2 quality starts against Texas & Houston so far this month. Iwakuma has posted a 3.13 ERA over his last 8 starts, which includes a no-hitter against Baltimore on August 12. Wednesday’s game starts at 7:10pm Pacific Time.