Angels’ hot bats enough to down Houston: Phillips’ and Upton’s homers led Anaheim to 7-5 upset of Astros

Griffin Rissinger, Contributing Writer

     With the last day of the season approaching (October 1st will be the last day with regular season games), Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN took us to Houston to watch a pair of division rivals, the Los Angeles Angels take on the Houston Astros. The Astros, with 95 wins, have already got a ticket to the playoffs by winning the AL West. The Angels are technically not eliminated from the wild card race just yet, but they would need a miracle to claim the second wild card spot.

     The pitching match-up featured Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr., who is sporting a 4.01 earned run average, a 7-3 record and 126 strikeouts in 21 games. Tyler Skaggs took the mound for the Angels, who sits with a 4.48 ERA, an unimpressive 2-6 record, and 69 strikeouts in 15 games. McCullers Jr. owns one of the, if not the best, curve balls in the game, and looked to mow down this Angels offense who, on average strikes out 7.33 times a game.

Skaggs, on the other hand, had to deal with one of the game’s best offenses, that includes hitters like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer.
Besides a relay play that got Jose Altuve out at the plate in the bottom half of the first, no real excitement happened in the first two innings. In the third, however, the Angels broke through with the game’s first run: a lead-off double by Martin Maldonado started off the inning and he eventually scored on a Justin Upton ground out. The Astros responded in a big way in the bottom of the third. After two quick outs, Astros’ right fielder George Springer was hit by and pitch and then third basemen Alex Bregman hit a two-run homer, giving the Astros a 2-1 advantage. They were not done though. After both Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve walked, the designated hitter Evan Gattis plated both of them with a double to left field. The Astros were up 4-1.

     Skaggs then settled down after a rough third inning, and didn’t allow any runs in either the fourth or fifth, and the Angels tacked on runs in both of those innings as well. First in the fourth with a Brandon Phillips home run, making it 4-2, and then again in the fifth when Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun singled, Albert Pujols walked to load the bases, then Brandon Phillips and Andrelton Simmons both walked to bring in the Angels’ third and fourth runs. Neither team scored in the sixth and both teams turned the ball over to the bullpen at this point.

     In the seventh, the Angels scored their fifth and sixth runs on a couple singles, a walk, and a double by Luis Valbuena. The Astros retaliated with 1 run when George Springer hit his 33rd home run of the season off Angels’ reliever Cam Bedrosian. In the eighth inning, the Angels added another run to their lead when late season pick up, Justin Upton hit his 35th home run off Luke Gregerson. The Stros’ were shut down in the eighth and then again in the ninth when Blake Parker earned his seventh save of the season for the Angels. The Angels defeated their division’s winner, 7-5.

     The Angels currently sit at 77-78 on the season and the Astros at 95-60. The Astros, having won the division, will play their first game when the ALDS begins as the Angels are still fighting for the second wild card spot, even though it looks bleak.

     The Angels are 4.5 games back from the Minnesota Twins, who currently hold the last wild card spot in the American League. With just five games left to play, it would take a miracle for the Angels to pull it out.

 

 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s outfielder Mike Trout slides into home plate in a match-up against the Baltimore Orioles. Trout is batting .308 with 31 home runs and 70 RBI on the year.