The LA Angels went into a three game series with sole possession of the second AL Wild Card spot. After a dramatic three games, they still hold onto it, fighting off the Baltimore Orioles in the most exciting series of the season.
The LA Angels have been inconsistent all season. They have spent the better part of the past three months within two games of .500. However, after an electric series win over the weekend, the Angels look legit.
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In Game 1, it was an emotional return to the mound for Andrew Heaney. He made his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery. Heaney showed flashes of the pitcher the Angels traded for back in 2014. He went five innings and gave up five runs, but struck out five batters as well.
The Angels gave him plenty of run support, as Albert Pujols, CJ Cron, Kole Calhoun, and Mike Trout all went yard before Heaney’s exit. However, Orioles star third baseman Manny Machado matched them with three home runs of his own.
The third of those came in the ninth innings against Keynan Middleton. In a questionable move, manager Mike Scioscia subbed Middleton in for Yusmeiro Petit in the ninth inning after Petit allowed two base runners. Middleton, who has allowed eight home runs on the year, faced Machado, which resulted in a walk off grand slam for the Orioles, as they won 9-7.
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This was the third walk off grand slam the Angels allowed since the All Star break.
In the second games, the balls kept leaving the park. Fortunately, it was only the Angels who sent
the ball out. JC Ramirez limited the O’s to just one run in 5.2 innings, and the bullpen shut down the Orioles offense for the rest of the game. The Angels received multi-homer games from both Mike Trout and Luis Valbuena, who both hit two big flies in their first two at-bats.
In the series finale, it was an all out team effort by the Angels to win the game. Parker Bridwell faced off against his former team, pitching well. He allowed four runs (two unearned) over five innings while striking out three. Calhoun opened up the scoring for the Halos in the second inning, going deep for his second time in the series, and his 16th on the season. He would go on to walk three time in the game while adding on two runs as well.
Andrelton Simmons was able to fight off his recent slump to absolutely blast a ball to left field for a two run bomb. Simmons also dazzled in the field once again with high velocity throws and seamless catches.
With the score 4-4 going into the eighth inning, Cameron Maybin came in to pinch hit for Juan Graterol. In his first at-bat of the series, he fought a ball off to right field, bringing home Calhoun to make it 5-4.
The bottom of the ninth is where things got tense. With Cam Bedrosian, Keynan Middleton, and Yusmeiro Petit all having pitched earlier in the game, the Angels sent out Bud Norris for his first save opportunity since losing the role to committee. This did show some confidence in Norris, as Scioscia could have sent Petit out for a second inning or subbed in Blake Parker. However, Parker had pitched in the previous two games, so Norris was the choice.
Norris showed much better command throughout the inning. He was also driving off his back leg extremely well, hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun. After allowing a single to start the inning, he struck out the next batter. This strike out was followed by a walk. This led to a nine pitch at-bat against Caleb Joseph, who struck out swinging.
The final batter of the series grounded out the Norris, who gave Halo fans a final scare as he rushed his toss to first. The ball ended up being snagged by Cron off the bounce though, and the Angels ended their road trip with a win.
The Angels went 7-2 on their trip, and now head home for a huge ten game home stand. They will face the Texas Rangers in a four game set. Then they take on the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics for three game apiece.