ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The drama seemingly never ends for the Los Angeles Angels
Andrelton Simmons hit a walk-off single as the Angels broke a three-game losing streak by defeating the Houston Astros 2-1 on Saturday night.
Kole Calhoun walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth, and Albert Pujols hit a single into short left field to send Calhoun to third with no outs. After Luis Valbuena struck out, Simmons hit a chopper to shortstop Carlos Correa and Calhoun easily crossed home plate before the throw for the team’s MLB-best fourth walk-off win of the season.
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”I mean, it would be nice if we blew a couple guys out, you know, but this team just doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up. Anytime we’ve been down lately, it’s like we find a way to get back in it, tie it up, get a lead,” Calhoun said.
The Angels have trailed in 11 of their 16 wins this season. While many of those games have been defined by offensive outbursts, the Angels managed just five hits.
”Tonight, that was all the pitching staff tonight. They’re just waiting for us to score a run,” Calhoun said.
Bud Norris (1-1) picked up the win in relief, while Chris Devenski (2-2) took the loss.
J.C. Ramirez took some pressure off the over-worked Angels’ bullpen by offering six strong innings. He gave up one run, which came in the first inning after Carlos Beltran hit a bloop double down the third-base line to drive in Correa, eight hits and walked two.
”It felt like we had people on every inning, but it wasn’t our night,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
Lance McCullers was just as effective for the Astros, allowing two hits and striking out four in seven innings. The only run the Angels pushed across with McCullers on the mound was unearned in the second inning. A passed ball allowed Valbuena to advance and he was driven in by Cameron Maybin.
”The one hiccup was just a cross-up that advanced 90 feet, and as you learn in a close game 90 feet matters,” Hinch said.
Mike Trout was a surprising last-minute scratch for the Angels. Trout was removed as a precautionary measure after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring during warmups and is day-to-day, the team said.
Maybin took Trout’s place in center field, and Ben Revere stepped in for Maybin in left.
Trout had extended his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games in the Angels’ 7-6 extra-inning loss to the Astros on Friday night, but had been dealing with the tight hamstring for three or four days, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
”We gave him a day off and he bounced back, felt good,” Scioscia said. ”We’re going to exercise every precaution, especially with a hamstring. He plays a demanding position in center and needs to be able to move.”
BIRTHDAY OFF, ALMOST
Despite holding a 14-game hitting streak at Angel Stadium, Astros 2B Jose Altuve was not scheduled to play on Saturday, which also happened to be his 27th birthday. ”Probably the best present I can give him is a day off,” Hinch said before the game. But Hinch backtracked in the top of the ninth by using Altuve as a pinch-runner for Alex Bregmann, and he was caught stealing second. Altuve then took over at second base, with Marwin Gonzalez moving to third.
The Angels added another reliever in RHP Damien Magnifico in a trade with Baltimore and optioned him to the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City. Magnifico is already with his third organization this season, having started the year with Milwaukee. ”I know he’s got a big arm,” Scioscia said of Magnifico, who appeared in three games for the Brewers last season.
Astros: Gonzalez was hit by a pitch on the top of his left foot in the second inning. Gonzalez remained in the game despite clearly laboring as he ran the bases and still appeared to be trying to walk it off after his next at-bat in the fourth.
Angels: Scioscia said RHP Andrew Bailey (shoulder) came out of his second bullpen session since being placed on the DL ”OK” but did not know when he would return. ”Started off really strong, he got a little tired afterwards and we’re just going to continue the same course of action,” Scioscia said.
Astros: RHP Mike Fiers (0-1) hasn’t figured into the decision of his last four starts, giving up 15 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. Fiers had one of his worst 2016 outings in his last appearance at Angel Stadium, pulled after being blasted for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker (1-1) was on the wrong end of a 2-1 loss at the Astros on April 20. Shoemaker has given up two or more earned runs in each of his six starts this season.
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