Kole Calhoun/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels, MLB.com
Never put it past a manager to exaggerate the talents of one of his players. But Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t seem to be dealing in hyperbole when he talks about his right-fielder, Kole Calhoun.
Calhoun on Saturday night made a spectacular fully laid-out diving catch of a line drive hit by the Texas Rangers’ Rougned Odor in the eighth inning of the Rangers’ 7-6 victory. Texas had just gone ahead and there were two runners on when Calhoun came through. It wasn’t the first time Calhoun did that, it probably won’t the the last.
With that ability as well as a terrific throwing arm, Scioscia calls Calhoun one of the best corner outfielders in the American League. Perhaps the best right-fielder.
“I think he’s as good as there is in right field, I think he’s gold-glove caliber,” Scioscia said. “I don’t think there’s a right-fielder that stops the first and third like he can, not in the way he charges the ball with his arm and his accuracy.
“And I think that when you have a guy like Mike Trout in center, I think it really enhances what guys can do on the wings and he takes advantage of that. I don’t know if there’s a better defensive right-fielder that we’ve seen than Kole.”
Hector Santiago/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels
– First and foremost, Hector Santiago had another fine outing. He pitched seven innings and for the most part matched “King” Felix Hernandez pitch-for-pitch. Santiago allowed just one run on three hits and struck out six while walking two. Hernandez allowed no runs and just one hit and struck out eight while walking three in six innings; he came out with cramps caused by the heat in the daytime game. Santiago’s ERA dropped to 2.58, lowest among Angels starting pitchers, fourth in the American League. He’s only 4-4, but Santiago is nevertheless making a case for being selected to the AL All-Star team.
– Rookie Trevor Gott, just 22, earned his first big-league victory with a perfect 10th inning. Gott has now pitched seven innings and has allowed just three hits and no runs; he has an ERA of 0.00 and has not walked a batter. He is regularly clocked at 98 miles-per-hour.
– It figured Albert Pujols would cool off, if for no other reason than he had been so hot for a long spell. Pujols went 0-for-5 in this one and has gone just 1-for-15 in his past four games with no home runs and no RBIs. Pujols’ most recent home run came June 22 in a 4-3 victory over Houston. He hit two that night. That was also the last time he drove in a run; he had three RBIs in that one.
– The Angels, who continue to struggle to score runs, hit into three double plays. The most notable came in the bottom of the 10th inning when Pujols hit the first pitch from Tom Wilhelmsen and grounded into a shortstop-to-home-to-first double play with the bases loaded. Fortunately for the Angels, Wilhelmsen then uncorked a wild pitch that scored Kole Calhoun with the winning run.
– Speaking of Calhoun, he has had two clutch at-bats the past two games. And since he’s been struggling at the plate, that’s huge for the Angels. He smacked a two-run home run in the first inning of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Seattle. Then he had an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning in this one that gave the Angels a 2-1 lead. It could have been the winning run, but Huston Street gave up a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth. However, the Angels were glad to take the victory on Wilhelmsen’s wild pitch. Calhoun was hitting .314 on May 13. He’s now at .262 and is hitting just .232 this month.
Huston Street/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels
– This was a big victory in as much as had the Angels lost, they would have fallen under the .500 mark and would have been 5 1/2 games behind front-running Houston in the AL West. With the win, the Angels are 33-32 and still 4 1/2 games out ahead of Wednesday’s games.
– This was the first game with the new batting order that saw Albert Pujols bat cleanup for the first time since 2010. Mike Trout, typically a No. 2 hitter, was moved to third with previous cleanup hitter Kole Calhoun batting second. The results were mixed. The Angels did not get a leadoff batter on the entire game. Calhoun went 0-for-4, Trout 1-for-3 with a single and walk and Pujols 1-for-3 with a 2-run home run.
– Left-fielder Matt Joyce was back in the lineup after being benched for two days. He’s still struggling. Joyce went 0-for-2 and was replaced by Daniel Robertson, who went 1-for-2. Joyce is now batting .181.
– Perhaps the best news from this game was the second consecutive solid outing by starting and winning pitcher Garrett Richards. He tossed seven innings and allowed just four hits and one unearned run while striking out four and walking three. After having his ERA rise to 4.14 after getting ripped in New York for six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning on June 6, Richards’ ERA is down to 3.59. He’s 7-4 and leads the staff in wins.
– Huston Street picked up his 20th save in 22 opportunities. Street blew saves May 6 against Seattle and May 7 against Houston. In the latter game, he gave up three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. His ERA was 3.86 at that point, not good for a closer. He since has converted 11 save opportunities in succession and lowered his ERA to 2.33.
Albert Pujols hits his 536th career home run Tuesday night, tying him with Mickey Mantle for 16th-place all-time/Photo by Chris O’Meara, Associated Press
– First and foremost, Albert Pujols hit the 536th home run of his career to tie Mickey Mantle for 16th-place all-time. It was Pujols’ 16th of the season, tying him for the team lead with Mike Trout.
– Angels fans have to hope that Kole Calhoun’s second three-hit game in the past four games means he’s finally starting to shake himself out of a rather lengthy slump. He was hitting .314 on May 13 and had dipped to .266 on June 2. He stayed there for one more game, moved to .276 after going 3-for-4 on June 5 but then dropped back down to .266 by going 0-for-7 the next two games. Not only did Calhoun go 3-for-5 in this one, he drove in four runs. He had one RBI in six games this month ahead of this performance. Calhoun now sits with 29 RBIs.
– Also nice to see was the job by starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker, who seems to be having a sophomore jinx of sorts. He has been better of late, but even by giving up just two runs in 6 1/3 innings in this one, his ERA on the season is 4.86. Shoemaker (4-4) struck out six and walked just one while throwing 84 pitches.
– This victory stopped a five-game losing streak and pulled the Angels within four games of the Astros (34-26) in the AL West. Unfortunately for the Angels (29-29), they have been caught and passed by the Texas Rangers (31-27), who are in second just two games back of the Astros.
– Former Asuza Pacific University star Kirk Nieuwenhuis is getting a decent look here by the Angels after being acquired from the New York Mets. But after starting 2-for-6, he has gone in the tank. Nieuwenhuis went 0-for-5 in this one and is 1-for-his-last-16 and has seen his average drop to .136 with the Angels. Nieuwenhuis hit just .079 in 38 at-bats with New York before coming to the Angels.