I’m not going to lie, I had a full doomsday post all ready to go for what seemed like a sure Angels loss after the Astros had pulled ahead 5-3. Now, it is lost forever in wasteland of the internet. Finally, the Angels pulled one out against the Houston Astros. Finally, the bullpen did it’s job. And finally, an offense that put six runs on the board, didn’t have to wonder after the game what more it has to do to get back in the win column.
Once again, the Angels got out to an early lead. This time, it was thanks to the bullet that Josh Hamilton hit to right center field. It was Josh’s fourth of the year, and coincidentally, his fourth of the year against the Astros. I would suggest that we play the Astros more, but after this series, I’d rather see this team just get the hell out of Texas. The lead didn’t last long though. In the bottom of the second, Matt Dominguez singled home Ronny Cedeno, but was cut down when he got greedy by Hamilton at second base. Alberto Callaspo got the Angels the lead back when he hit a sacrifice fly in the third to bring home Mark Trumbo, but the Astros got it back when Chris Carter singled home Jose Altuve. The Astros took the lead in the fifth on an RBI single by Brandon Barnes, and that loud groan you heard was tens of thousands of Angels fans dreading the worst for this series. But then along came Brendan Harris who lifted his second home run of the season to left field to knot the game up at three. But of course the Astros got a two-RBI single from Matt Dominguez to make it 5-3 in the sixth, bringing an even louder groan from southern California.
Things got interesting after that. Turns out, when you play in Houston, it is OK for the rules to be changed in favor of the home team. Astros manager, Bo Porter, brought in lefty reliever Paul Clemens to face J.B. Shuck. So Mike Scioscia, obviously, went to his bench and sent Luis Jimenez out to pinch hit. So what does Porter do? He changes pitchers, again, which is actually, not allowed.
Rule 3.05(b) states: If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at-bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.
But the umpires, I guess, just felt like winging it tonight. The pitching change stood, Scioscia filed a protest immediately, and Scott Cousins flied out to end the inning.
Now maybe, this is where this team perked up. Scioscia hasn’t done a lot of arguing this year, and that used to be a hallmark of his. Maybe seeing the big catorce get fired up, flipped some kind of switch. Because when the Angels came to bat in the eighth, it was started by a Harris single, which was then followed by walks to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, which was followed up by Mark Trumbo hitting a two-RBI double to tie the game up at five. Two batters later, after an intentional walk to Howie Kendrick, Callaspo delivered another sacrifice fly, bringing home Pujols to take back the lead, and this time for good. Of course, not without drama from Scott Downs. Downs relieved Garrett Richards, and promptly gave up back to back singles to start the eighth inning. Then, after a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third (and an apparent Scott Down injury, because, of course), Scioscia went back to the pen and summoned Ernesto Frieri for the five-out save. And Ernasty delivered, striking out three of the five batters he faced, and allowing no hitter to get on base.
Hamilton had a good night, Chris Iannetta walked four times (as a team the Angels drew 11 walks, which is absurd), and the bullpen didn’t suck. Erick Aybar did leave the game with a hamstring injury because apparently, the DL isn’t crowded enough already. The Angels open a new series against the Chicago White Sox tomorrow, and reportedly, will be sending Orangel Arenas to the mound for his major league debut to give Tommy Hanson some “him” time. Starting for the White Sox will be Dylan Axelrod, who has been a victim of poor run support this season. Let us hope that this trend continues. Breathe easy and sleep well Angels fans, the Halo shines bright tonight.