Five things to take from Angels’ 5-3 loss to the Houston Astros

Mike Trout

Mike Trout hit his 35th home run in Sunday’s loss/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels


– Losses don’t come much more difficult than this one. When you’re up 3-0 with two outs in the ninth inning and your closer has gotten the first two batters and has two strikes on the third and then you lose, one has to wonder if perhaps this just is not the Angels’ year. A win would have pulled them with 2 1/2 games of the first-place Astros in the AL West and kept them within two of the Rangers in the race for the second wild-card spot. Instead, they are 4 1/2 behind the Astros and three behind the Rangers with only 20 games left in the regular season.

– To further enhance this notion that 2015 may not be the year of the Angels, consider that one of the hits in that five-run Houston ninth inning was a rocket of a grounder hit to Taylor Featherston. It was hit so hard by Carlos Correa that the ball stuck in Featherston’s glove. If it doesn’t, he throws out Correa easily and the Angels would have won 3-2. Furthermore, the 3-run home run by pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie was nearly caught by Kole Calhoun, who couldn’t quite get to the ball as it made its way just into the stands near the right-field foul pole.

– Now the question is, can the Angels come back from such a tough loss? Sure, they won the series from the Astros, taking two out of three. But when you have a victory in the bag and let it slip away, creating a two-game swing in the standings, even the toughest ballplayers could have difficulty with that. The Angels begin a 10-game road trip Monday night in Seattle. It will be interesting to see how they play.

– It was a shame to lose a game in which C.J. Cron hit two more home runs and Mike Trout hit one. It was No. 35 for Trout, meaning Trout and Albert Pujols became only the second Angels duo to hit at least 35 home runs in the same season. Mo Vaughn, Garrett Anderson and Troy Glaus had at least 35 in 2000.

Andrew Heaney pitched OK, but he wasn’t great. He lasted just five innings and even though he did not allow a run, he allowed nine baserunners – six via hits, two via walks and he hit a batter. He made good pitches to get out of jams, but he would help the team even more if he could go deeper into games. It was Heaney’s second consecutive outing in which he went just five innings and he is averaging just a hair under six innings per start on the season. Four of his six starts in August were 5 1/3, 5 2/3, 5 2/3 and 3 1/3 innings. Considering Heaney had four consecutive starts of at least seven innings from June 30 to July 20, one has to wonder if Heaney – a rookie – is starting to feel the fatigue of a long season that for him began in the minors. He has gone seven innings in just one of his past 10 starts. Heaney is 7-3 with an ERA of 3.32. Nothing wrong with that, on the surface.

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Albert Pujols concerned how sore foot affecting his right knee

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels


Albert Pujols was back at designated hitter for the sixth consecutive game Friday as he is trying to stay off his sore right foot. Pujols also expressed concern about how the foot is affecting his right knee, which was surgically repaired in 2012.

“If this was the National League, I would do it,” he said of playing in the field at first base. “But I’m more worried about my knee. I don’t want it to irritate my knee. I don’t know how long it’s going to be. Hopefully, the next couple of days here it gets settled. But who knows?”

Pujols won Gold Glove awards for his play at first base in 2006 and 2010.


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Five things to take from Angels’ 3-2 victory over the Dodgers

Kole Calhoun

Kole Calhoun/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels


– This was the third game in a row Kole Calhoun did something significant. He hit home runs off Zack Greinke on Monday and Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday. Then in this one he doubled to open the bottom of the eighth inning with the game tied 2-2. Calhoun went to third on the play on an error by Dodgers right-fielder Andre Ethier, then scored what proved to be the winning run on a single by Albert Pujols. Calhoun had seven home runs and 11 RBIs in August, but batted just .205. Calhoun is batting .400 with three home runs and six RBIs so far in September.

– Pujols’ big hit was significant because he is playing hurt right now – sore foot and sore knee – and because he is hitting just .235 with runners in scoring position this season, and that average includes a recent resurgence in that regard.

– Huge, huge performance by starter Garrett Richards. His team needed a victory about as badly as they have all season, and he came through with 7 2/3 innings of four-hit ball. He allowed just two runs and struck out 11.

Huston Street’s 33rd save kept him one behind American League leader Brad Boxberger of Tampa Bay. The Major League Baseball leader is Mark Melancon of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has 44.

– The third-place Angels (70-69) remained 5 1/2 games behind first-place Houston in the AL West. But they did pick up a game on Texas, which is holding down the second wild-card spot. The Angels are now within 3 1/2 games of the Rangers. However, the Angels also must contend with Minnesota, which is 1 1/2 games behind Texas and two games up on the Angels. The Angels have 23 games remaining, the Rangers 24 and the Twins 23.

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Dean Chance, Mike Witt, Tim Salmon in Angels Hall of Fame

Photo of Dean Chance




Dean Chance/Photo courtesy of

Pitchers Dean Chance and Mike Witt and outfielder Tim Salmon were inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame before Saturday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Chance won the Cy Young Award in 1964 when only one award was given for both leagues, Witt threw a perfect game against the Texas Rangers in 1984 and Salmon helped the Angels to their only World Series title in 2002.

In 1964, the Angels were still playing at Dodger Stadium. Chance noted Saturday that his Cy Young Award was part of a string of five pitchers winning the award whose home park was Dodger Stadium. The others were Don Drysdale (1962) and Sandy Koufax (’63, ’65, ’66).

Chance went 20-9 with an ERA of 1.65 in ’64. He talked about win No. 20.

“It was at Dodger Stadium, which is a pitcher’s park,” he said. “And the 20th win – (second baseman) Bobby Knopp – they (Minnesota Twins) had runners on first and third with one out and he (Knopp) made the greatest defensive play I’ve ever seen an infielder make.

Jimmie Hall hit a shot back through the middle and he went clear to his right, turned his glove and slapped the ball back to (Jim) Fregosi and we got a double play. That play there, I mean, it’s a game of inches. And that was a big play because in those days your goal as a pitcher was you win 20 games. And you’ve gotta really be lucky to get the breaks to do it.”

Chance is 74.

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