ANAHEIM, Calif. — It was another throwback night at Angel Stadium with the Halos wearing the 1960’s edition of their uniforms and a Beatles’ tribute band providing nostalgic postgame entertainment.
The nostalgia wasn’t limited to the baseball aesthetics Saturday night as a pair of Angels showed a resurrection of their former greatness.
Josh Hamilton — who has battled through the toughest year of a brilliant career — hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give Los Angeles a 6-5 win over the Houston Astros.
It was the 18th homer of the season for the outfielder signed by the Halos for five years and $125 million during the offseason. Thats 25 fewer bombs than he hit during the 2012 season, when he blasted 43 while driving in 128 runs.
Arriving in Anaheim with Hamilton were expectations of an MVP award and possible World Series appearance, but it has been disappointment at nearly every corner Hamilton has turned.
But he’s the type of player who usually thrives in big moments as he’s shown ever since coming to grips with drug and alcohol dependencies. And the game winner brought back memories of recent triumphs the moment he crushed the Josh Fields’ breaking ball over the wall.
“You never forget how it feels to get a hit like that,” said the 32 year-old Hamilton. “It never gets old and any time you can do something like that in that type of situation to help your team win a game and hear the crowd roar, that’s always a good thing.”
Hamilton wasn’t the only Halo who returned to form — even if just for a moment.
Closer Ernesto Frieri (1-4, 26 saves), who has seen his ERA jump nearly two full runs (2.76 to 4.41) in the past month while losing three games and blowing two saves, came through with a pair of scoreless innings to win his first game of the season.
Frieri had admitted he had lost most of his confidence during that bad stretch, but thinks he finally has things figured out.
“I’ve got (my confidence) back and I’ve got my fastball back,” Frieri said, who has mostly been outstanding for the Halos since being acquired from San Diego last season.
“I’ve been working a lot on my mechanics during (this last month) — I also worked on my breaking ball and fastball too. I just wanted to make sure that when I was called in, I’d be ready to perform. It made me really happy to come into a situation like that and pitch the way I did. I feel good about our team and the way we played tonight.”
Four strikeouts and a win in two innings pitched say that the diligent work paid off.
NOTES — Another Angel responded to his first day off of the season to get the Angels off to a good start. First baseman Mark Trumbo sat out Friday’s loss to the Astros, then drove in the first three runs of Saturday’s game with a home run — his 27th — and a two-run triple in his first two at bats.
The game might have ended differently had the umpiring crew not overturned a potential double by Houston’s L.J. Hoes in the top of the ninth inning with the score tied at 5 each. After initially being called safe, Scioscia protested that Erick Aybar had tagged Hoes out before he got to second base. The umpires agreed and the next two Houston batters struck out to send the game into extra innings.