Comeback kids LA Angels can’t hold on against Astros

By Vincent Page
May 5, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun (56) reacts with infield coach Alfredo Griffin (4) after he hits an RBI single in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
May 5, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun (56) reacts with infield coach Alfredo Griffin (4) after he hits an RBI single in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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The LA Angels faced off against the Houston Astros on Friday night in another down-to-the-wire ballgame. In a contest between the two best comeback teams in the American League, the Angels could not finish out the game, losing in ten innings by a score of 7-6.

The LA Angels had 10 comeback wins coming into Friday night, good enough for second in the AL behind only the Astros, who had 11. The matchup did not seem favorable for the Angels, who went up against the AL Pitcher of the Month for April, the elite Dallas Keuchel. They sent out Jesse Chavez, who has been average at best this season.

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However, the two pitchers were going blow for blow throughout most of the game. Keuchel buckled first, giving up a solo shot to Albert Pujols (595 on his career for Pujols) in the second inning. However, Josh Reddick of the Astros struck next, parlaying Pujols’ home run with one of his own. It was a battle of two pitchers who, quite simply, were dominating for the next few innings. Martin Maldonado also earned his first big fly of the season, giving the Angels a 2-1 lead going into the seventh inning.

Then, the Astros came back. With two runners in scoring position, Jose Alvarez came in to relieve Chavez. However, he hung a slider too far over the plate and gave up a three run homer to Brian McCann. The Astros extended their lead, entering the final frame up 6-2.

However, Angels fans learned once again to never leave the game early. The Angels were able to load the bases for Mike Trout, who had yet to extend his 16 game hitting streak. Trout was able to send a dying quail into shallow center field, landing between two Astros. The Angels were one run away from sending the game to extras when they called in Kole Calhoun to pinch hit. He ripped the first pitch of his at-bat into right field, tying the game up.

Bud Norris, who has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season, then pitched the tenth inning. He gave up a single to superstar second baseman Jose Altuve, who followed up the hit by swiping second. Carlos Correa then drove a ball to right field, where Cameron Maybin fumbled the exchange and allowed Altuve to score. The Angels seemingly ran out of gas, as the Astros retired the side in the ninth.

The Maybin error raised the question as to why Mike Scioscia decided to sit Calhoun after his pinch hit. He came in for Danny Espinosa, who could have been replaced by Cliff Pennington. This move would push Ben Revere to the bench, allowing Calhoun to field right (and most likely hold Altuve to third base) while sending Maybin back to his usual spot of left field.

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Game Notes:

One of the Angels top ranked prospects made his Major League debut Friday night. Right-handed pitcher Keynan Middleton pitched in the ninth inning. On his first pitch as a major leaguer, he sent a hard fastball to Carlos Beltran, who turned the pitch into a double. He allowed one run on two hits in his first inning of big league action. However, Middleton finished the outing strong, earning his first career strikeout to end the inning. Scioscia was pleased with Middleton’s outing, as he explained he wanted the young prospect to get a taste of what it takes to succeed in the majors.

The Angels are now losers of three straight games, two of which were decided by one run. They will take on the Astros in the second game of their weekend series Saturday night. JC Ramirez will get the start. When he was first thrust into the starting rotation, Ramirez struggled. However, he has rebounded nicely as he has allowed five runs over his past three starts. The Halos will face Lance McCullers Jr., who is 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in two road starts this season. However, he shut out the Angels over 6.2 innings in a start against the Halos earlier this season.

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