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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Five things to take from Angels’ 7-0 victory over Minnesota

Matt Shoemaker

Matt Shoemaker/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels


– Big outing for Matt Shoemaker in this one. Shoemaker, who has struggled this season to find the rhythm that helped him go 16-4 in 2014, pitched six innings of two-hit ball. He struck out 10 and walked three on 88 pitches to move to 5-7 on the season. Even so, his ERA dropped only to 4.55. It was 3.04 a season ago.

Chris Iannetta continued his recent surge at the plate by going 2-for-3 with a three-run home run and four RBIs. He is 9-for-32 over his past 10 games, which equates to a .281 average. That’s not spectacular, but it did raise his average from .181 to .199.

C.J. Cron went 4-for-4 to raise his average to .278. That is quite impressive since it was just .204 upon being recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake City in late June. Cron is hitting .488 (21-for-43) this month.

Daniel Robertson has continued to make the most of his opportunity. Typically, he’s been platooning with Matt Joyce in left field. But with Mike Trout taking the day off with a sore left heel, Robertson was in center for this one. He had two more hits and raised his average to .271.

– Speaking of Trout, he told reporters that he woke up Tuesday morning and his heel was sore. He said he didn’t remember doing anything specific to cause it. He is day-to-day.

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Five things to take from Angels’ 7-3 victory at Seattle

Mike Trout

Mike Trout/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels


– The biggest thing about this victory is that it pulled the Angels within a half-game of first-place Houston in the AL West. The Angels (47-39) have won 10 of 12 heading into Saturday’s game at Seattle.

– Wow, what a game by Mike Trout. All the All-Star centerfielder did was hit his 25th and 26th home runs and drive in four. By going 3-for-5, Trout raised his average to .309. He is now tied for the league and team lead in home runs with teammate Albert Pujols. Trout’s 54 RBIs are second on the team to Pujols’ 56. Trout leads the team in on-base-percentage (.401), slugging (.618) and OPS (1.019).

C.J. Cron continued his hot hitting since being recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake City on June 29. In eight games he has hit four home runs and driven in 11 while hitting .448 (13-for-29). Cron went 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs in this one.

Hector Santiago threw 106 pitches in seven innings and allowed eight hits. But he struck out seven and allowed just one run and is now 6-4 with an ERA of 2.33, third-lowest in the AL among starters.

Vinnie Pestano had just been recalled from Salt Lake because closer Huston Street is working through a groin injury. Pestano pitched to just two batters in the ninth inning of what was not a save opportunity. He hit a batter and gave up a 430-foot, two-run home run to former Angel Mark Trumbo. Not the best way to return to the majors. Manager Mike Scioscia took no chances and immediately replaced Pestano with Fernando Salas, who retired the next three batters to end the game. Salas struck out two of the three.

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Five things to take from Angels’ 13-0 victory over Texas Rangers

Hector Santiago

Hector Santiago/Photo courtesy of Los Angels Angels


Hector Santiago had another solid outing. He tossed seven scorless innings to lower his ERA to 2.40 on the season, which is fourth-best among AL starters. Santiago, who struck out three and walked just one on 104 pitches, is now 5-4. The lack of victories could hurt him for consideration for the All-Star game, but his ERA and WHIP of 1.10 suggest he’d be a good pick.

– The day the Angels saw their GM – Jerry Dipoto – resign, they scored just one run in a 3-1 loss to the New York Yankees at Angel Stadium this past Wednesday. But after a day off to absorb everything, they scored eight times in an 8-2 victory Friday at Texas. Then they scored 13 runs on 17 hits in this one. It makes one wonder just how much tension there was on this team because of the uneasy relationship manager Mike Scioscia and Dipoto apparently had. There is no better way to participate in sports than being free and easy.

– The Angels, who have had season-long issues with their offense, went to a season-high five games (43-38) over .500 with this win. But they won’t stay there if this offense doesn’t score more runs on a regular basis. Even with scoring 21 runs over the past two games, they were still 11th in the league in runs scored (with 324) before Sunday’s series finale at Texas. The Angels were first in the league in 2014.

– The Angels had to feel really good about C.J. Cron’s day. He drove in six runs – he had a three-run home run in the sixth inning – while going 3-for-4. Still, he’s hitting just .216. If the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Cron, who has been up and down from Triple-A a couple of times, can drive in runs consistently, that would be a huge shot in the arm for this team.

– Don’t look now, but after struggling most of the first half, shortstop Erick Aybar has found his groove at the plate. Aybar hit just .222 in April, but then he hit .308 in May to raise his average to .271. He went back in the tank and saw his average dip all the way down to .246 on June 17. He since has gone 22-for-48 (.458) to raise his average to .280. His career average over 9 1/2 seasons – all with the Angels – is .278.

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