The Los Angeles Angels' starting rotation received a major blow last Thursday, learning 13-game winner Garrett Richards would be lost for the season.
Hours later, unheralded rookie Matt Shoemaker restored the team's psyche with an outstanding performance.
Five days after flirting with a no-hitter, Shoemaker faces the red-hot Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich as the Angels try to bounce back from a lopsided defeat to the visiting Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.
While Mike Trout's sensational play has been instrumental to Los Angeles' success, a starting rotation led by Jered Weaver, Richards and Shoemaker had been one of the league's best.
Richards, however, tore the patellar tendon in his left knee while covering first base Wednesday, and had season-ending surgery two days later. His loss means Shoemaker will have an even larger role for the Angels (77-53) as they push for the playoffs, but it appears he's up for the challenge.
The day after Richards' injury, Shoemaker (12-4, 3.56 ERA) had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the seventh at Boston, and ended up yielding one hit and one walk in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-0 win. He retired 20 in a row at one point and struck out nine while throwing a career-high 116 pitches.
"I think it's really uplifting," manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's going to be a lot of attention on our rotation obviously with Garrett not going to be part of it. You can't say enough about what Matty did."
Undrafted out of college, Shoemaker has a 1.10 ERA in winning his last three outings, which includes throwing three perfect innings of relief in a 19-inning victory over the Red Sox on Aug. 9, and is 5-2 with a 2.51 ERA in his last seven starts. The right-hander is tied with the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka for the most wins by a rookie, and is trying to become the first Angel to win 13 games in his first full season since Jason Dickson in 1997.
Shoemaker will be called upon again to lift the Angels after Richards' replacement struggled in Monday's series opener. Making his first start in more than a year, Wade LeBlanc lasted just 3 1-3 innings, permitting six runs in a 7-1 loss, as Los Angeles fell back into a tie with Oakland for the AL West lead.
The Marlins (65-65) improved to 13-5 against the AL to move within three games of San Francisco for the NL's second wild card.
Stanton hit a three-run homer Monday - his NL-leading 33rd - and is batting .421 with two home runs and 15 RBIs to go with a 1.200 OPS in his last 10 games. Yelich has hit safely in 12 of 13 games, batting .473 with six doubles and 12 runs.
Trout leads the majors with 274 total bases - one more than Stanton - but was hitless in four at-bats Monday and is hitting .114 with 15 strikeouts in his last 11 home games. He is also 0 for 19 in his last five interleague games after batting .400 in his first 13 versus the NL.
He'll try to break out of his slump against Nathan Eovaldi (6-8, 4.06), who gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings of Wednesday's 5-4 loss to Texas. The Rangers scored three runs in the first inning and two in the second, and they all came with two outs.
The right-hander had seemed to find his footing prior to facing Texas, recording a 1.29 ERA in his first three starts of the month.
Eovaldi made his lone start against the Angels in 2012, giving up a run in six innings for the Dodgers.