Sometimes it takes a bit of craziness to shake a team out of a slump. If that's true, the Los Angeles Angels seem ready to put their nosedive down the standings behind them.
Losers of 10 of their last 11 games, the Angels rescued victory from the jaws of defeat multiple times on Saturday night, and it took a complete team effort to do it. The result was a 13-12, extra-inning victory over the division rival Astros that kept the Halos flickering playoff hopes alive.
Maybe Saturday's epic win won't change the trajectory of this Angels season, but it was an oasis in the desert for a franchise that needed a pick-me-up.
As injuries and losses have mounted in the last two weeks, it seems there hasn't been much actual baseball talk around the Angels lately. Instead, Arte Moreno's club has been the subject of endless speculation about the fate of its once-in-a-lifetime superstar, Shohei Ohtani.
The Ohtani trade rumors won't abate until he is either dealt or the trade deadline passes in two weeks, but for one night it was nice to actually enjoy a baseball game. Ohtani helped power the comeback with a leadoff homer in the ninth inning, but it was his teammates that did the rest.
After Chris Devenski got touched up for five runs in the top of the seventh, it seemed the Angels were well on their way to a seventh consecutive loss, but rookie Zach Neto answered with a two-run homer, then Mike Moustakas blasted a three-run shot to tie the game.
It can never come easily for this team though, and the Astros regained the lead with a two-run bomb in the eighth, then they tacked on another run in the ninth that honestly just seemed unnecessary. Ohtani's leadoff homer seemed to be just another Tungsten Arm O'Doyle-like footnote in another Angels defeat, but Tyler Ward, Mickey Moniak, and Eduardo Escobar strung three singles together before Hunter Renfroe tied it with a single of his own.
Carlos Estevez was his usual excellent self in the top of the tenth, then the Astros booted the game away with a throwing error that allowed recent call-up Trey Cabbage to score the winning run. That run completed one of the most improbable comebacks in baseball history while moving the Angels to within five games of the Astros for the final Wild Card spot.
The AL West rivals will now face off on Sunday for the rubber match in a game that will prove if the old axiom of momentum only being as good as the next day's starting pitcher is true. Tyler Anderson and his 5.25 ERA will get the call for the Angels, and if ever the team needed a great start from the veteran lefty, it's now.
If Arte Moreno is serious about not trading Shohei Ohtani, the Angels desperately need to string some wins together, otherwise he could be facing a mutiny from his own fanbase. Saturday night was the kind of win that can turn a season around, a signature victory that fans will remember fondly no matter how this season turns out. Can the Angels keep it going?