ANAHEIM - For the sixth straight time, the Los Angeles Angels found their way to the win column over the Colorado Rockies. Like the majority of wins for the Halos this season, it came with a solid outing from their starting pitcher and late dramatics from the unsung heroes of the depths of their lineup.
C.J. Wilson took the mound for the Angels and came off the mound at the end of the eighth inning with just two runs left on the scoreboard on one walk and five hits. Wilson would end up being the winning pitcher, and is currently off to one of the best starts to a season in his career.
“I’m trying to be improved,” said Wilson. “The new and improved, version six, because this is my sixth year as a starter. I keep evolving and trying to learn. I read a lot of books, read a lot of fangraphs, try and figure stuff out (laughs).”
Wilson is also currently seeing the lowest walk ratio of his career to this point in the season, walking just 2.06 per nine innings. Wilson has walked just two over his last 22 innings of work, which has helped him go deep into games with an easy pitch count. For Wilson, it was the third straight start he had pitched to seven innings or more and fourth time of the young season.
“I’m thankful that all the work is paying but it’s a lot of work. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to try and reverse trends and buck certain things. Even tonight, I had a 2-2 pitch that I thought was there and I missed. I had a chance to get another no walk game, but it’s more a combination of that and not giving up hits.”
Wilson left the game with Los Angeles and Colorado at a deadlock of two a piece. In the bottom of the eighth, the Angels offense found a way to give Wilson a much needed win in a strong effort, and it was lead by Albert Pujols.
Pujols singled to left to leadoff the bottom of the eighth. Without a sound, Pujols gained a large lead off Rockies reliever, Rafael Betancourt, and darted for second unattested to get into scoring position.
“I try to do whatever I can to get on base,” said Pujols. “I got the green light, so I go whenever I feel like it. So if I know that I’m gonna make I’m gonna go.”
For Pujols, it was his 99th career stolen base, one away from the milestone of 100. With his next steal, Pujols would join the elite club of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players with 100 stolen bases, 500 home runs and a batting average above .300. Pujols, a player not known for looking at the numbers, found pride in knowing he could be with such greats, and showed so in a laughing and enjoyable manner.
“It’d be great. I think it’s a great accomplishment in my career. Obviously I don’t go as much as I used to before because part of my injury. Maybe I’ll get 100 and shut it down for the rest of my career. (laughs)”
With a flair for dramatics, five-foot-eight, Johnny Giavotella once again came through in a dramatic situation, sending a flaired single to right field and giving the Angels a lead. The hit was Giavotella’s sixth game-winning RBI of the season, which puts him second in the American League behind Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners.
“Johnny the Entertainer,” said Wilson. “He waits for the fans to get really into it. Rally Monkey, big situation, winning run on base, something like that. He’s got a great approach. When I used to pitch against him, he was a tough out for me because he used the whole field and stuff.”
Giavotella collected his seventh multi-hit game of the season, and is currently batting .283 on the season. Giavotella, who was not a member of the Angels six months ago, has become a large part of the organization and has been a large boost in the clubhouse.
“He’s a great little player, he’s exciting,” said Pujols. “He reminds me a lot of David Eckstein. Guys like that, when they have that chip on their shoulder, and always having fun. Before you know it they’re getting big hits. Then that’s the best thing, he’s having fun.”
The Angels pounded away for nine innings, and found their way into the win column once again over the Rockies. The Angels currently hold a Major League best, 97-55 record against inter league teams. Tonight, they did so doing the small things.
“I know a lot of people focus on the bigger thing which is homers,” said Pujols. “Get some hits here and there, but the little things are what wins the game and sometimes that’s taking the extra base or playing good defense. At the end of the day, as long as you help your ball club to win, it’s what matters to me and the organization.”
Huston Street finished the game off with a 1-2-3 ninth, and attained his 286th career save at the Major League level. That put him in a tie for 29th all-time with Rod Beck.
Final from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California:
Rockies, 2 (11-18); Angels, 5 (16-17)
W – C.J. Wilson (2-2, 2.63)
L – Rafael Betancourt (0-1, 4.38)
S – Huston Street (11, 3.29)