LA Angels fans had begun leaving the stadium already as the team was down 8-1 in the seventh inning. It was not looking any better with a 9-3 deficit going into the ninth inning. Then, something miraculous happened. They came back!!!
The Mariners owned this ballgame for 51 outs. They absolutely rocked LA Angels Matt Shoemaker for seven runs in 4.1 innings. He did not have his offspeed pitches today. This showed as he only struck out one batter while walking two. Mike Morin and Blake Parker gave up a run each, pitching until the ninth inning. Andrew Bailey came in and shut down the side, giving the Angels offense one last chance.
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Despite having a forgettable day on the mound, Shoemaker had a couple of milestones. He suffered a line drive to the head last season against Kyle Seager of the Mariners. In the second inning, Seager battled Shoemaker for the first time since the injury, something that brought the pair close, and ended up grounding out to Escobar. Shoemaker was faced with a line drive straight at him once again to end the inning. However, he was able to bat it down with his glove and get the batter out at first. In a day where Shoemaker did not have his best stuff, he got over a couple of major bumps in the road.
That was, until Albert Pujols, hitting .167 this season before today, started off the ninth inning with his first big fly of the season (#592 of his career). With the bases loaded, Danny Espinosa came up to bat. He grounded out to second, but brought in a run and advanced the runners to second and third.
It did not hit me that the Angels might be doing something special until Yunel Escobar doubled to right field, bringing in two more runs to cut the lead to 9-7. Calhoun and Trout both worked four-pitch walks, bringing up Pujols again. With two outs, Pujols barely snuck a ball past Mariners’ first baseman Danny Valencia, bringing in Escobar and Calhoun to tie things up at 9.
Cliff Pennington, a late-inning defensive specialist, then hit a shot out to right field that looked like a homerun at first, then a pop up. However, it simply dropped to the ground, bringing in Trout for the game-winning run. The fans who stuck it out went crazy. The announcers and broadcasters could not believe it. Pennington was attacked by his teammates.
I know it has only been one week of baseball. I know the Angels only sit at 5-2. And yes, I know it is early. However, it seems as if something special is going on in Anaheim this season.