For the final game in this series against the Astros, the Angels lineup was all kinds of messed up, thrown together Scioscia style. With Mike Trout out due to a hamstring issue and Peter Bourjos back on the DL with a fractured wrist (insert sad face here), we were left with an outfield of J.B. Shuck, Josh Hamilton, and Brad Hawpe, for what looks exactly like a Spring Training lineup, but it is what it is, and the game goes on.
Facing Lucas Herrell, the Angels were held scoreless in the first 3 innings. Then in the fourth, Mark Trumbo blasted his 18th bomb of the year to deep right field, putting the Angels up 1-0. There was a scare for the Astros in the 6th when Herrell got hit in the shin on a line drive right up the middle from Howie Kendrick, but he continued to pitch, Howie was thrown out trying to steal, Mark Trumbo struck out to end the inning, and Herrell pitched through the 7th inning as well, so it seems any real harm was averted.
C.J. Wilson started for the Angels and was extremely efficient through the first five innings, but as we’re so used to seeing when C.J.’s pitching, the inning of doom reared its ugly head, this time in the 6th. Brandon Barnes should have been caught stealing, but Howie Kendrick missed the throw from Hank Conger that would have got him.Then came a bunt attempt from Jake Elmore, C.J. got the ball, but threw high to first, pulling Mark Trumbo off the bag, which allowed Elmore to be safe at first and advanced Barnes to third. Jose Altuve hit a liner straight to Alberto Callaspo, who made both a great catch and a bad throw. The catch got the first out of the inning, but his throw was off target and Barnes scored, tying it up at 1 each. C.J. eventually pitched out of the inning and no more runs scored, but the damage had been done.
But the Angels wouldn’t be defeated by the inning of doom and made things interesting in the 8th off reliever Jose Cisnero. Howie Kendrick led off with a single and after Albert Pujols struck out, Josh Hamilton got a hit to left, scoring Howie. Josh scored as well when the throw from Jake Elmore went wide. That was all the scoring they did when Mark Trumbo stuck out swinging, Alberto Callaspo walked, and Brad Hawpe stuck out swinging as well, but it put the Angels back on top, 3-1.
Kevin Jepsen came out to replace CJ in the 8th and provided the requisite bullpen “Oh crap!” moment when he walked Chris Carter with Jose Altuve on and 2 out, but got Carlos Corporan to strike out swinging. Jose Veras came out to pitch the 9th and after Hank Conger reached base on what was ruled an error (but certainly looked like a hit), center fielder Brandon Barnes made another great catch in this series to get Erick Aybar out and J.B. Shuck lined it to first baseman Brett Wallace who stepped on the bag and doubled up Conger to end the Angels half.
Onto the bottom of the 9th and time to bring out Ernasty! Aybar couldn’t make a catch when the first batter of the inning, J.D. Martinez hit a grounder his way, it was ruled a hit and the Astros had their leadoff hitter on. Ernesto Frieri got Matt Dominguez to pop out in foul territory, Jason Castro came out to pinch hit for Ronny Cedeno, who struck out, and Brett Wallace flied out to Josh Hamilton to end the game.
A month after being swept at home by the Astros, the Halos went into Houston and swept them right back. The Angels have won all 6 games of this road trip, sweeping a 6 game road trip for the first time since 2002, bringing their record up to 39-43 overall 15-20 in games against divisional opponents. They now head back home to Angel Stadium first to face Albert’s old team, the Cardinals, then the Red Sox, and look to win at home the way they have been on the road.