Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia oft said he wouldn’t need a long reliever coming out of Spring Training. The five-man rotation was set and his revamped relief core would mix-and-match to set up Joe Smith and Ernest Frieri late.
Months before injuries hampered the starting rotation, all the Angels needed was a role player. The final piece to a 12-man pitching staff. Scioscia’s choices dwindled to journeyman Brandon Lyon, former Brave Cory Rasmus, and a little known 27-year-old named Matt Shoemaker.
Shoemaker won out and neither he, nor Scioscia, haven’t looked back.
It’s been a confidence boosting month for the rookie right-hander, who hasn’t yielded a run over the last 14 2/3 innings and hasn’t given up more than three in an outing since July 21.
Last night marked Shoemaker’s fourth consecutive victory and second straight shutout. Marlins batters scurried for two hits in the Angels’ 8-2 victory, rarely driving the ball out of the infield. More importantly, his 13th victory secures Los Angele’s place atop the AL West.
One can’t blame the Angels for looking beyond tonight’s series finale with the Marlins. Beginning tomorrow night, the Oakland A’s head to Angel Stadium for a decisive four-game set. The only obstacle ahead of the Oakland series is Henderson Alvarez, Miami’s ace in the making.
Pitching Matchup – Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.38 ERA) vs. Henderson Alvarez (10-5, 2.57 ERA)
Lost in the pitching staff’s stellar month-who own a 3.03 ERA since the All-Star break- is Hector Santiago’s consistency.
The lefty has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his last seven starts. His ERA plummeted from 4.50 in early July to 3.38 following a five-inning start in Oakland last Friday. The A’s scattered seven hits against Santiago but managed only one earned run; Coco Crisp’s solo homer.
Santiago makes his first start against the Marlins after going 0-1 with a 3.05 ERA in 12 career interleague games.
Jose Hernandez’s season-ending injury hasn’t stopped Miami from a legitimate playoff run. It’s couldn’t be possible without Alvarez.
The All-Star righty won his fourth consecutive decision last Friday despite allowing four runs to Colorado. Right shoulder inflammation forced Alvarez to miss the better part of August, sending the Marlins into a 4-6 skid.
Alvarez owns a 2-0 record and 1.57 ERA in three starts against the Halos, all as a Toronto Blue Jay.
- Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are a combined 0-for-14 against Alvarez.
- Angels pitchers hold a 3.03 ERA since the All-Star break.
- Erick Aybar is riding an 11-game hit streak, including six straight multi-hit games.
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