As Rory Markas would have said with an electrifying jolt of enthusiasm in his voice: “Just another Halo victory!” The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have swept Seattle! As a result of the comeback victory, the Angels are now 5-2 on the young season. The Halos never took serious never carried a lead at any interval until a magical ninth inning transpired. And magical is a colossal understatement.
The Angels cut into Seattle’s sizable lead in the ninth on a moonshot by Albert Pujols, the 592nd tater of his illustrious career. Second baseman Danny Espinosa had an RBI of his own in the ninth on a groundball. Yunel Escobar smacked a 2 RBI double to trim it to a 9-7 deficit. Pujols tied the contest on a 2 RBI single shortly thereafter with the bases juiced, and their winning run came on a line drive to right center by Cliff Pennington.
Right-handed pitcher Matt Shoemaker toed the rubber in this afternoon’s contest for the Angels against the Mariners’ 1x All-Star Hisashi Iwakuma. Even though the Shoe was part of a couple rather questionable calls, he still did not have his best stuff today. There are definitely a couple pitches he would love to have back. In 4 1/3 innings of work, he gave up 6 earned runs and a pair of walks. He only accrued one punch out and allowed a deep homer to Robinson Canó in the third.
Notwithstanding the insane comeback, here are a few additional insights from today’s AL West showdown.
- Simba’s Impact In The Batter’s Box Being Felt
Everyone who follows baseball understands how exceptional Andrelton Simmons is on defense. Last night, for example, Simmons demonstrated his otherworldly athleticism to end the third inning by making an unbelievable tag on Jean Segura. It was a play that Manager Mike Scioscia went on to describe as magician-like in terms of its overall nature. Certainly, it sheds light on why Andrelton has earned two Gold Gloves over the course of his career.
Although Simmons’ ability to flash the leather is not in question, he has greatly helped the Halos in another aspect so far this season. On offense he has been pretty consistent when it comes to not even just making contact, but making hard contact. Today he once again showed glimpses of this in the second inning. His blast down the left field line tied the score 1-1 at that stage in the ballgame. It was Simba’s first big fly in 2017 and it got his team going. While the shortstop is not expected to be as productive offensively as a guy like Mike Trout, contributions like this give the Angels’ lineup much-needed depth.
- Bullpen Eating Up A Lot Of Innings For The Angels
Matt Shoemaker was pulled by Scioscia prior to the end of the fifth inning. Due to the Shoe’s overall ineffectiveness against Seattle, the rotation once again put a lot of additional pressure on the Halos’ bullpen to perform. Although starters cannot always be expected to pitch perfectly, there has only been a single occurrence this year when an Angels’ hurler has tossed six innings. It happened last night when Ricky Nolasco did so in what was ultimately a 5-4 Angels’ triumph. That is just about it, though.
There are still a multitude of games left in 2017. With that in mind, no hypothetical panic button should be pushed. However, the ball club’s starting rotation will need to begin to turn things around in this respect as time progresses. It will eventually take a toll on the bullpen and that is not fair to them whatsoever. Yes, the bullpen is there for reason. But when they end up having to get nearly as many outs as the man being called to start, it gives rise to a steady dose of squinting. Simply put, more length is needed from the starters. It essentially boils down to that.
- Carlos Perez Is No Slouch Behind The Plate
Martín Maldonado appears to be the team’s primary catcher this season based on the greater playing time he has attained. In large part, it is well deserved. Maldonado is a showman behind the dish. His ability to frame pitches and throw baserunners out is truly amazing. What is perhaps all the more amazing is how naturally it comes to him.
Although this is all true, Carlos Perez should not be taken for granted. Granted his impact in the batter’s box has not been too lofty thus far, his defensive presence was put on display this afternoon. In the fourth inning, Carlos gunned down speedy centerfielder Leonys Martin. It may seem like a small sample size to most. However, it exemplifies that the Halos have quite a tandem at this particular position. They may not be tearing seams off baseballs all too much. Nonetheless, they are surely preventing the opposition from tearing up the basepaths.