ANAHEIM - The Los Angeles Angels are back on top of the American League West after a 8-2 win over the Miami Marlins, but a bigger message seemed to be sent on Tuesday night.
For the Angels, pitching has been a problem the last few years. In 2014, things turned around and everything seemed to hit an all-time high with the bats working, pitchers going deep into games, and the bullpen standing tall at the end of the night. However, two of the star pitchers were lost for the season due to injuries (Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards) and the bats seemed to decrease productivity as well in the second half of the season.
The Angels needed a big game from a not so big pitcher, and a big offensive night. Well, they got both of those things within three hours.
Matt Shoemaker took the hill for the Angels, and didn’t come off until the end of the seventh inning. Over his time in the “office,” Shoemaker allowed just two hits, two walks, and struck out six. For Shoemaker, he’s allowed just three runs in his last two starts. He also has a 1.30 ERA, 0.725 WHIP and 5.22 H/9 in his last seven appearances.
“He just keeps doing what he’s been doing all year,” said manager Mike Scioscia. “You just can’t ask for a better game.”
For Shoemaker, he realizes it’s his time to step up and be the pitcher he has always wanted to be. With two starting pitchers down, Shoemaker has had to work his way further into the rotation and fit the part of being one of the Angels elite guys every five days.
“You always want to be needed,” said Shoemaker. ‘Whether it happens or not, you can’t predict the future, but it’s where we’re at now.”
Shoemaker has worked his way into talk of Rookie of the Year candidacy, and rightfully so. With his performance tonight, he dropping closer and closer to leading most statistics for American League rookie pitchers. His 13 wins is tops among all rookies, and 3.33 earned run average is third best in the American League.
Opposite side of the game from Shoemaker was the Angels offense, who posted 16 hits on the scoreboard, helping give them eight runs in a blowout performance.
“The offense came alive,” said Scioscia. “All in all, from one through nine we pressured them a lot during the game and got eight runs, so that’s a nice night.
For the Angels, five of the starting nine had multi-hit games, including three-hit nights for Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and David Freese.
For Albert Pujols, it was another milestone night, as he climbed down the ladder a few steps. With a two-RBI double in the fourth inning, Pujols worked his way to 99th all-time (2,491) on the hits list, and tied himself for 40th all-time (1,578) on the RBI list.
“We had a couple great at bats from everybody and everybody contributed,” said Mike Trout of the offense.
For Mike Trout, who reached base four times over the night, it’s a new way of playing baseball in 2014. The Angels are winning, and doing it in ways that haven’t happened since his original callup. The Angels won their 78th game of the season tonight, matching the total they had all of last season.
“We’re just trying to win ball games, we’re definitely in a better situation than we were in the past two years.”
The offense was helped by Erick Aybar, who hit safely for the 11th straight game, and is the sixth straight game where he’s had multiple hits. Mike Scioscia gave praise to his shortstop after the game.
“Not only what he’s doing in the batter’s box, to the way he’s been playing defense, he’s terrific. He’s playing as well as he can and it’s really important to us.”
The Angels look to take the series over Miami in a rubber match tomorrow at 7:00 pm PST.
Final from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California:
Marlins, 2 Angels, 8
W – Matt Shoemaker (13-4, 3.33)
L – Nathan Eovaldi (6-9, 4.30)