ANAHEIM - Defense wins games. It’s a simple term used countless times, but it’s more than just simplicity and saying it, it’s fact. For the Los Angeles Angels tonight, a pair of defensive plays from their superstar helped keep them not only in the game, but was the defining factor in a walk-off win over the Colorado Rockies.
The Angels handed the ball to Hector Santiago to begin the night, and he put together another solid outing, which has become expected of the southpaw. In six innings, Santiago gave up one run on seven hits, while striking out eight in the affair.
“Hector was Hector tonight,” said Halos skipper, Mike Scioscia. “He used his off-speed pitches when had to, had good life on his fastball. He was conveniently wild at times but got back into counts and pitched six strong innings.”
For the latter stages of the game, pitching took over, from both the Colorado and Los Angeles side. In the 10th inning, Troy Tulowitzki put what might have been the finishing touches to the game, but Angels star outfielder, Mike Trout, had separate plans.
Tulowitzki put a strong swing on a ball and lifted it to left center in an atmosphere where balls don’t travel as well as they might in other locations or times of the night. The ball was traveling well, and as it got to the wall, Trout was right underneath it. Trout made a leaping catch, and robbed Tulowitzki of what would have been the go-ahead run.
“He’s fearless,” said Angels outfielder, Collin Cowgill. “Those plays dont get his heart pumping. He just makes the plays and gets the outs. It’s incredible how he can slow the game down and stay under control when the game is on the line.”
For Trout, it was his seventh robbed home run since the beginning of the 2013 season, which is tops in Major League Baseball.
“He makes it look so easy and it’s not. Robbing a home run in baseball is not easy and to be able to do it so well is incredible. This is my third year on the team and every day it seems like he does something I’ve never seen before.”
Trout wasn’t finished either, as in the top of the 11th inning, with a runner on third and one out, Daniel Descalso gave a ball a ride to shallow center. Trout ran roughly 100 feet to catch the ball at his knees, and he then finished the play off with a darting throw to the plate to gun down Carlos Gonzalez for the third out of the inning.
“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed Angels infielder, Taylor Featherston. “He put’s the icing on the cake, day in and day out. You can just come to expect it. You take it for granted how special of a play it is every time he does it.”
The bottom of the 11th began with a single to right by C.J. Cron, who was promptly pinch run for by Featherston. Following Cron’s single, Kole Calhoun bounced a ball off the wall in right field and sent Featherston to third, despite a deke by Rockies right fielder, Carlos Gonzalez.
“Off the bat I knew where they were positioning and I knew it was going off the wall. [Gonzalez] definitely threw a deke that slowed me up a couple steps but I had first to third easy.”
Following an intentional walk of Trout to load the bases, Albert Pujols stepped in and nearly sent the fans home a few minutes early with a long drive to left that went foul by just feet, and missing a walk-off grand-slam.
“I put a good swing on it,” said Pujols. “But, that’s how things are going for me all year.”
After battling for four more pitches, Pujols found a pitch he could do something with and flared it out to left field. With a five-man outfield, Corey Dickerson was the only option to keep the Rockies in the game with a good throw to home… which didn’t happen.
Taylor Featherston was easily safe at home, and the Angels found themselves with a walk-off win, their third of the home stand, and hit the .500 mark once again.
“You not try to be too anxious. Bases loaded, two outs, five-man infield. The only thing you want to stay away from is grounding into a double play, or anything where they can throw to the plate. [Friedrich] made a couple tough pitches and I knew that I needed a good pitch to hit. Even though the last pitch was a good one, I put a good barrel on it.”
The Angels set a season high in strikeouts with 14 and have won six of their last eight games. As mentioned above, it was their third walk-off win of the season, all coming on this current home stand.
Final from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California:
Rockies, 1 (11-19); Angels, 2 (17-17)
W – Cesar Ramos (2-0, 0.93)
L – Christian Friedrich (0-1, 4.50)