The Halos became the first team this season to reach the 80-win mark when Howie Kendrick lifted a sacrifice fly to right field in the 10th inning of Thursday night’s game against the Oakland A’s. Albert Pujols easily scored from the third and the Angel Stadium crowd roared as Kendrick was mobbed in the 4-3 walk-off win.
"Josh (Hamilton) and Albert did a great job of getting on to try to get me the opportunity," Kendrick said. "I was glad to make good on it."
The victory extended their AL West lead over the A’s to two games. But the two could have very likely ended up tied in the standings as the Angels came close to walking off in the ninth after an unlikely series of events but left the bases loaded. Still struggling with runners in scoring position (2-for-9), the Halos left nine on base.
But it was one of the longest-tenured Angels that gave them just enough in the 10th inning.
Stud of the game: Kendrick battled through his final at-bat with Ryan Cook. He quickly fell behind 0-2 before sitting on a fastball. He then fouled a slider right off his mouth and said, "It knocked some sense into me."
Four pitches later, he hit a fastball just deep enough into right field to allow Pujols to score for his sixth walk-off RBI of his career.
"There’s been a lot of times where I’ve failed in that situation," Kendrick said. "You just try to find that piece of mind and go up and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to get something I can handle here.’ Even though you’re hitting with two strikes you still want to try to get a good pitch to hit."
Dud of the game: LHP CJ Wilson wasn’t quite the dud but signs of his recent struggles began to resurface later in his outing. Wilson gave up two in the sixth inning and Wilson failed to protect the 3-2 lead, giving up a game-tying home run to Josh Donaldson
"That really kind of changed the complexion to that game entirely," Wilson said. "But we have a great team and it’s a team sport. The offense picked me up tonight and the defense played really well… All the relievers came in and did their job, they’ve been pitching fantastic."
In 29 starts this season, Wilson has made it through the sixth inning only five times.
"I think he pitched a little bit better than maybe the line score showed," said manager Mike Scioscia. "His ball-strike ratio wasn’t great but I think he did a good job changing some speeds, he had some walks here and there, but almost got through the sixth inning."
WALK OFF – #Angels 4, A's 3
Kendrick's 6th career walk off makes the Angels the first team in the Majors w/ 80 wins!
Key moment: It was the collision heard around baseball.
In the bottom of the ninth, Erick Aybar hit a shallow fly. Pitcher Dan Otero moved toward the first base line to make the catch while Brandon Moss attempted to track it down as well.
The two collided. And with nowhere else to go, Aybar ran right into both. He was awarded first base on an interference error on Otero initially and A’s manager Bob Melvin was livid and officially protested the game.
"He had nowhere to go," Scioscia said. "The fielder has the right to get the ball but you don’t have the right to block the runner’s path, I know that much."
How the Angels Won (08/27): Trout has another big night in win over Marlins
While it looked as though Oakland was unraveling in that inning, ultimately Mike Trout stranded the bases loaded and the call was later changed to fielder’s obstruction. However, the A’s still played under protest and the protest remains.
Key stat: John McDonald contributed to the wild ninth inning with a bunt single, his first hit since July 1.
What’s next: Three more games against the A’s at the Big A on FOX Sports West. Jered Weaver will face lefty Jon Lester Friday night.