How the Angels Won: The Angels beat the team they were supposed to beat Wednesday night, with yet another strong performance by a key role player Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.
A three-run third inning and an insurance run later was more than enough for Hector Santiago to pitch behind in the Angels' 6-1 win over the Marlins.
Santiago (4-7), the tough-luck loser on so many occasions, gave up just one run, a solo home shot by Adeiny Hechavarria in the second inning, in 5.2 innings of work, striking out six and walking just two. The two walks was progress from his early season performances when he typically was issuing three or more, (he's walked as many as five in one game this season) and his calm demeanor on the mound is a far cry from the spring as well.
"It was definitely a big difference from earlier in the year, from overthrowing to making pitches now," he said. "I'm excited that I can go out there and almost know that I can throw strikes. Earlier in the year I didn't know what to expect. I might have one side of the plate down and might miss everything else on the other side. But now, whatever (the catcher) puts down, it doesn't matter what it is. I can kind of get it where I want it."
"He hit his spots, he changed speeds and he pitched," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Santiago, much like right-hander Matt Shoemaker, is close to shedding that role-player tag, as both pitchers, once spot-starters, have become an integral part of the Angels' staff.
Bud Selig: 'I'd be very, very happy' if Mike Trout becomes face of MLB
Stud of the Game: Mike Trout followed up a monster day with a 2-for-3, two RBI, home run performance. His 30th home run of the season went deep, even by Trout standards. Estimated at 430 feet, Trout drove a Henderson Alvarez curveball well over the trees and onto the grass in center field.
"I hit it good on two strikes," Trout said. "I put a good swing on the ball and got a pitch to hit it."
Dud of the Game: Alvarez (10-6) came into the game without having given up an earned run to an interleague opponent as a Marlin. He then promptly gave up three in the third inning. He was charged with five runs on eight hits and gave up home runs to Trout and Gordon Beckham.
Key Moment: The play of the game was made by Westlake High product Christian Yelich, when he reached over the stands to make a fantastic catch in left field.
Key Stat: Trout's seventh-inning home run tied his career-high mark from 2012 and made him only the fourth player to record multiple seasons of 30 or more home runs under the age of 23.
What's Next: Meanwhile, in Houston, Oakland outfielder Sam Fuld provided the late-game heroics with a two-run homer in the ninth. The race is as tight as it gets with only a single game separating the two in the standings and the A's will visit the Big A for four games beginning Thursday.
The AL West- and MLB-leading Angels (79-53) only have one simple game plan for the big weekend series: Play baseball.
"You can't look at it as a pennant race game," Scioscia said. "Whether it's a pennant race or a playoff game, you go out there, you stay focused and you compete. I think anything else becomes a distraction."