Tag: Joe Smith

Mike Trout

Mike Trout walks off in ninth to give Angels 1-0 win


Mike Trout launched his third career walkoff homer off Koji Uehara with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Friday, giving the Angels a 1-0 win over the Red Sox.

Uehara was able to get ahead with a fastball to begin the at-bat against Trout, but he opted to throw him another one right away, rather than go to the trusty splitter. Trout deposited it over the walk in left-center to end it.

Trout had been 0-for-5 with three strikeouts against Uehara in his career.

Both starters threw gems in this one, only to be left with no-decisions. Boston’s Wade Miley took a no-hitter into the seventh before Kole Calhoun doubled. He pitched scoreless ball into the eighth. The Angels’ C.J. Wilson completed eight scoreless despite never turning in a one-two-three inning. The win ended up going to Joe Smith, who pitched a scoreless ninth for the Angels.

With the homer, Trout moved into a tie with the injured Giancarlo Stanton for the major league lead at 27. He also leads the majors with 70 runs scored.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

Josh Donaldson

Blue Jays 10, White Sox 9: Walkoff number one: The Josh Donaldson Show. Donaldson hit two homers — bookends, really — as he lauched a solo shot in the first and then hit a walkoff three-run homer off David Robertson for the win. After the game he said “That’s probably one of the better feelings in baseball, to hit a walkoff homer. You don’t get the opportunity very often.” Except it’s the second time he’s done it this year and the fifth time in his career, so if you’re Josh Donaldson, you get that opportunity more than a lot of dudes, frankly.

Cubs 3, Nationals 2: Walkoff number two: Youth is Served: Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant both homered to tie the game at different points and Addison Russell doubled in Jonathan Herrera for the walkoff win. The Cubs have 13 one-run victories. Charmed life.

Reds 2, Rockies 1: Walkoff number three: The Futility-Interruptor. The Reds finally snapped their losing streak — it died at nine — thanks to a pinch hit Skip Schumaker walkoff double. After the game Schumaker said “winning never gets old.” Certainly not in Cincinnati it doesn’t.

Mets 5, Phillies 4: Walkoff number four: Everybody Hates Wilmer. Wilmer Flores — who a certain stripe of Mets fan loves to hate — singled home the winning run with two outs in the 10th. Is he the best shortstop ever? No. And his defense leaves quite a bit to be desired, but he’s got a .724 OPS and pretty excellent power numbers for a shortstop in this day and age. That ain’t nothin’.

Mariners 7, Rays 6: Not a walkoff, but if it was I’d call it The Kyle Seager Show or something. Seager hit a grand slam in the eighth and, after the M’s bullpen pooed all over itself in the ninth, Seager hit a solo shot in the top of the 10th which put Seattle up for good.

Rangers 4, Indians 3: Seven straight for Texas, who are now a .500 team. Not too shabby after starting things off as poorly as they did and suffering all of the injuries they’ve suffered. Mitch Moreland hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth and Prince Fielder continued to party like it’s 2009, hitting a three-run bomb. Fielder is 14-for-24 with five homers and 15 RBI in his last five games. How did you hit your home run, Mitch Moreland? “I was trying to get a good pitch, something I could drive.” Oh. How interesting.

Giants 6, Brewers 3: Madison Bumgarner didn’t shoot out the lights, but he won for the fifth time in six starts and was backed by a Hunter Pence laser beam and homers from Matt Duffy and Brandon Belt. What’s your secret, Madison? “That’s it, just making pitches and getting outs.” Oh. How interesting.

Astros 4, Orioles 1: Houston has now won 10 of 13, so maybe it’s time to stop asking if they’re for real. I mean, sure, they could crater and, in hindsight, we’d all say they weren’t for real, but it’s not like they’re winning via trick plays and opposing teams tanking to get draft picks. Here Scott Feldman was solid over six innings and Luis Valbuena drove in two.

Yankees 5, Royals 1: Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer in the first and drove in two more with a double in the fifth. On the year he’s only hitting .243, but the on-base percentage is a healthy .365 and he’s slugging a stout .588. He’s on pace for 49 bombs and 123 RBI. A product of being in The Best Shape of His Life?

Pirates 5, Marlins 1: The Buccos jumped all over Jose Urena early, leading 4-0 after two innings and then they cruised behind Jeff Locke and three relievers. Well, maybe they didn’t “cruise” as Locke needed 104 pitches and walked four guys, but they certainly rumbled along, as one may while driving an older SUV that could possibly use some new tires. Either way, that’s five straight wins for Pittsburgh.

Twins 2, Red Sox 1: If there are any immutable laws in the universe, one of them has to be “if you stake Mike Pelfrey to a two-run lead in the first inning, he’ll make it hold up.” OK, maybe my math is a bit off with that. And my history, frankly, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s some good science.

Cardinals 6, Diamondbacks 4: Randal Grichuk and Jhonny Peralta each drove in two to back a dicey Jamie Garcia, who picked up his first win in nearly a year. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat for Yasmany Tomas: he hit two doubles and drove in three but he also struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh and grounded out to end the game with the tying runs in scoring position.

Dodgers 8, Braves 0: I was on a radio show yesterday when someone asked me “what’s the matter with Clayton Kershaw?” I’d guess not much apart from not facing enough pushover lineups like the Braves and not being staked to enough big leads to allow him to cruise. Here both were in play, and Kershaw struck out 10 in seven shutout innings while every single hitter in the Dodgers’ lineup, Kershaw included, got a hit.

Padres 4, Angels 0: Scoreless for nine innings and then the Angels decided that Joe Smith needed to be in the game. That’s when Matt Kemp hit a bases-loaded double and that was that. Both Kemp and the Padres have been struggling. Perhaps that wakes them up.

Tigers 1, Athletics 0: David Price and Jesse Chavez dueled and David Price won. The only run in the game came via a sacrifice fly in the first inning, and even that one wouldn’t have scored if Josh Phegley hadn’t thrown the ball away, allowing the runner to make it to third base. Price tossed seven shutout innings and the Tiger bullpen locked it down. Which is not something you hear very often. Especially when Joba Chamberlain is involved.

2015 Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

mike trout getty

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Big Question: Is the Angels’ window slamming shut?

It took a long time to pry that window open, actually. There was some serious disappointment in Anaheim after the signings of C.J. Wilson, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton didn’t pay immediate dividends. But, finally, last year the Angels fulfilled their promise and made it into the playoffs. Which is nice, but it still isn’t what Arte Moreno had in mind when he backed up the Brinks truck for those guys. He was likely thinking dynasty, and it’s hard to see how that can happen on the backs of those big money guys.

Albert Pujols is clearly not the MVP-caliber player he used to be. He’s a great second banana to Mike Trout — last year’s 28 homer, 105-RBI performance will certainly play in the middle of anyone’s order — but he’s clearly a player in decline. The Angels can hope it’s a nice slow decline that allows him to be productive for many more years, but the notion that Pujols and Trout would be a latter day Ruth and Gehrig is no longer operative. It’s now more of, I dunno, a DiMaggio/Tommy Henrich. Which, hey, was pretty darn good! But Henrich didn’t cost what Pujols costs and is going to keep Jerry Dipoto from going out and picking up the modern equivalent of Johnny Mize if he needs someone to provide some extra production.

Josh Hamilton’s problems are well-documented of course, so he can’t really be counted on to be, I dunno, Hank Bauer (sorry; the analogy is fraying here). Jered Weaver has declined for three straight seasons. C.J. Wilson is dealing with health problems this spring and is coming off a bad year himself. It’s as if the moment after the Angels finally pushed through and fulfilled their promise you can go up on a steep hill in Los Angeles, look south, and with the right kind of eyes, almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Or maybe not? I mean, those old expensive guys are varying levels of disappointment, but the best player in baseball still happens to play for the Angels and he’s only 23. Beyond him the lineup was nicely balanced last season with no real weak spots and a nice emergence of Kole Calhoun. Their best pitcher last year, Garrett Richards, is healthy again and should be ready to resume what he was doing last season some point early this season. The rotation doesn’t fall off a cliff after him either, as Matt Shoemaker posted a 120 ERA+ last year and some new arms are now in camp (more on them below). The bullpen, always a weak spot for those earlier underachieving Angels clubs was a strength last year.

Is the window closing? Only if you define that window in terms of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. What the Angels showed last year is that with Mike Trout, all things are possible. And that they don’t need those big money veterans to be the best players on the team in order to compete. If anything, the Angels might have won 98 games as a team in transition last year. And that’s a scary thought for the rest of the A.L. West.

What else is going on?

  • While Josh Hamilton’s relapse has been a big story this spring, the biggest loss heading into this year is not Hamilton. He was largely a non-factor last season, actually. No, the biggest loss is Howie Kendrick, whose office is now a few miles north with the Dodgers. Kendrick has been a fixture in the middle infield for the Halos for nearly a decade, hitting .291/.337/.423, for an OPS+ of 116 while averaging 142 games played over the past four seasons. That’s gonna be hard to replace. They’ll be trying to replace that will be some combination of Josh Rutledge, Grant Green and Johnny Giavotella. I’m sure they’re nice fellas, but they ain’t Howie Kendrick.
  • David Freese might be the biggest X-factor on offense for the Angels. He was clearly a disappointment last year, but a lot of that was attributable to a horrific first half. He was still uneven in the second half — great July and September, bad August – but his power numbers picked up a bit. If he can improve just a little bit it’ll make the loss of Kendrick and Hamilton less of an issue.
  • That whole team-in-transition thing can best be seen in the rotation. Richards is the ace and Weaver and Wilson are still big names there, but the Angels are clearly not blind to the decline of the latter two. That’s a big reason why they traded for Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney, two top pitching prospects from the Astros and Marlins organizations, respectively (Heany spent a few hours as a Dodger back in December and was acquired in the Kendrick deal). Obviously both of these guys need some more mileage on their odometer before they can be counted on to do anything, but they’re interesting guys to watch in 2015.
  • Huston Street was fantastic after coming up I-5 from San Diego after being traded last year and now the Angels will have him all year. Joe Smith was already one of the more reliable setup men around, but his reduction in walks last season helped him elevate his game. Vinnie Pestano lost it in Cleveland and then found it again in his short stint in Anaheim in 2014. If that is the harbinger of his return to form the bullpen will be a source of strength once again.

Prediction: The Angels have a lot of question marks for a team that won 98 games last year. But they still have an awful lot of talent. It’s not the talent they thought would carry them through this decade, but it’s solid all the same. And of course, they have at least three guys who were supposed to be carrying them through the decade — Pujols, Weaver and Wilson — from whom it wouldn’t be shocking to see a late-career spike season. If that happens with the still-good Pujols, it’d bring a nice overall improvement to the offense. If that happens with the struggling Wilson and Weaver, this team would really be cooking with gas.

The Mariners are improved and nipping at their heels, but by no means juggernauts. The Astros are not going to be doormats forever, but they’re still not contenders either. The A’s are all kinds of different than they used to be and no one knows what to expect from them. The Rangers are broken once again. Against that backdrop, I have no problem picking the Angels to be First Place, AL West.