Top 50 Angel Stadium Moments #21-25. Playoffs, No-Hitters and Clinchers.
Mike Trout (27) pours sport drink on starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker (52) in celebration of his 1-0 complete game victory against the Chicago White Sox Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
After taking a little hiatus from our top 50 Angel Stadium Moments I am back with our next five best moments as we countdown to number one which will come out in the next couple of weeks.
If you think our top Angel Stadium moments from #26 to 50 were good, just wait until see our top 25. Some you will remember for sure, while others may bring back memories, and others you may never have known about. These next five moments feature five very different moments.
From personal accomplishments to team milestones, MLB Records, and a key playoff victory its all in this installment of Angel Stadium memories.
So without any further adieu here is the list of these special Angels moments I hope you enjoy them and please comment if you have any memories that are top 20 worthy.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout (left), Mike Butcher (center) and shortstop Erick Aybar celebrate after winning the 2014 American League West Division title. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
#25 – Angels reach 100 wins in a season for the first time September 28, 2008.
When the Los Angeles Angels faced the Texas Rangers the AL West title had already been claimed by the Angels days earlier. However, on this night 100 was on everyone’s mind. The Angels in their then 47 year history had never had a team win 100 games.
The Angels sat on 99 wins with left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders taking the mound against the Rangers and starter Kevin Millwood. The Angels started quickly scoring a run in just the second inning on an RBI-double by Mike Napoli. Millwood recovered shutting the Angels down over the next two innings. Meanwhile, Saunders was on a roll with six strikeouts in the first five innings.
In the bottom of the fifth Napoli came back with a deep home run to left to stretch the lead to 2-0. Saunders struck out the side in the sixth to raise his game total to 9 and the Angels bats finally broke things open in the bottom of the sixth. Gary Matthews Jr. drove in Juan Rivera with a single, which was followed by that man again Napoli who drove in two more runs with another double to make the score 5-0.
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Saunders turned it over to the bullpen and they did not let him down allowing only one hit while striking out five in the final three innings to clinch win #100 7-0 for the Angels. Unfortunately for the Angels this was the high point of the season as the Angels were knocked out of the playoffs by the Boston Red Sox in four games.
However, it was still a memorable season and it laid the ground work for the 2009 season as the Angels turned the table on Boston in the playoffs, but more on that later in this article.
Los Angeles Angels left fielder Daniel Nava (25) is doused in celebration after reaching base on a throwing error in the ninth inning to allow two runs to score in a 2-1 win vs Boston. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
#24 – October 9, 2009 Game Two ALDS vs Boston Angels 4 Boston 1
Facing the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs became old hat for the Angels as the face the Beantowners in 1986, 2004, 2007, 2008, and then again in 2009. The first four times the two teams faced each other in the post-season were a nightmare for the Angels and their fans as the Halos lost all four series including two that ended up as sweeps.
In 2009 things were different with the Angels. The year started with tragedy losing young pitcher Nick Adenhart in a car accident in late April. However, this tragedy seemed to bring the team closer together. Adenhart’s jersey was hung in the dugout before every game and certain players did individual tributes to their fallen teammate.
The Angels easily won the AL West title and Adenhart was a part of the celebration as numerous players held the jersey up during the celebration and the whole team ran out to the right- centerfield wall by where Adenhart’s number had been placed on the wall and tapped their hands on the wall loudly. They also took their celebratory AL West clinching in front of Adenhart’s #34 on the wall.
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So together as one the Angels rolled into the playoffs on the wings of an Angel (Adenhart) carrying them. Waiting for them there was their old nemesis the Boston Red Sox. John Lackey took the mound and pitched brilliantly shutting out the Red Sox for 7.1 innings in winning game one 5-0.
This set the stage for Game Two with Jered Weaver facing Josh Beckett. The Red Sox struck first in the fourth inning as Jacoby Ellsbury tripled to lead off the inning and scored on a Victor Martinez RBI-Single to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. However the Angels quickly responded when a Kenry Morales sacrifice fly drove in Bobby Abreu who had singled earlier in the inning tying the score at one.
The score stayed at way until the bottom of the seventh as both Beckett and Weaver matched zeroes. In the seventh Vladimir Guerrero drew a rare walk and Howie Kendrick pinch ran for for him and scored on a two-out single by Maicer Izturis to give the Angels their first lead of the game at 2-1. Then Erick Aybar provided some insurance with a two-run triple to give the Angels some breathing room at 4-1.
From there Weaver and the Angels bullpen did the rest nailing down the 4-1 victory which put the Angels on the verge of exorcising 23 years of demons at the hands of the Red Sox as the Halos took a two game series lead back to Boston. Two days later the Angels completed the sweep with a comeback for the ages, rallying from being down 5-1 after five innings and 6-4 down going into the ninth inning to win 7-6. The victory sent the Angels to the ALCS for the first time since 2005 and allowed the Angels to erase some of their post-season failures. All the while Nick Adenhart was up in heaven smiling down on the team.
Jered Weaver is now #2 in victories for the Angels behind Louisiana native Chuck Finley.
#23 Jered Weaver passes Nolan Ryan on Angels All-Time Wins list with 139th victory making him #2 on the Angels victory list behind Chuck Finley on 4/10/16.
Jered Weaver has done many things in his Los Angeles Angels career including winning 20 games, leading the lead in strikeouts, and throwing a no-hitter. On April 10th of 2016 etched his name in the Angels record book one more time as he defeated the Texas Rangers 3-1 by pitching six innings and giving up only one run while striking out four batters.
Weaver got his first victory of the season in the game, but more importantly his 139th career victory, which moved him into second place on the Angels all-time victory list passing Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Weaver would end the season with 12 victories and 150 career wins, which is only 15 shy of Angels legend Chuck Finley for the #1 spot. However, with Weaver’s future with the Angels in doubt due to being a free agent he may never again wear an Angel uniform.
As for the game, Weaver started strong holding the Rangers scoreless in the first four innings. The Angels scored two runs in the third in support of Weaver with Mike Trout driving in Johnny Giavotella on an RBI groundout. Later in the inning Albert Pujols drove in Yunel Escobar with an RBI-Single to make it 2-0. Nomar Mazara hit a solo home run in the fifth inning for the only run Weaver allowed to make the score 2-1. However, Weaver worked through the 6th inning and Trout hit a sacrifice fly in the 7th inning for a big insurance run and Huston Street shut it down to complete the milestone win for Weaver.
Even if Weaver never pitches another game for the Angels, he will go down as one of the best pitchers in Angels history.
While David Eckstein will always be a fan favorite, don’t expect him in the Hall.
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
#22 – David Eckstein hits back-to-back grand slams in consecutive games vs. Toronto including a walk-off. April 27th-28th 2002.
When the Angels won the World Series in 2002 there were many magical moments. Comebacks were aplenty led by the diminutive Rally Monkey. With Angels sitting at 7-14 on April 27th, the Angels were in need of a spark, and they found it from the most unlikeliest of sources, 5 foot 6 inch shortstop David Eckstein.
Going into the bottom of the fifth inning against Toronto the Angels were tied at 4. After the Angels scored three runs to take a 7-4 lead, Eckstein stepped to the plate trying to add some insurance with the bases loaded. Eckstein hit a drive to left field off of Toronto’s Scott Cassidy and when the ball cleared the wall the Angels dugout erupted as did the fans as Eckstein had just hit the first grand slam of the season and pushed the Angels lead to 11-4 which ended up being the final score.
The very next day the Angels found themselves in need of a spark again trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the 14th inning hoping for a sweep of the Blue Jays. With two outs and the bases loaded, Eckstein again stepped to the plate trying to be the hero. Eckstein then took a 1-1 pitch from the Blue Jays Pedro Borbon Jr. and depositing it into the Blue Jays bullpen for a walk-off grand slam giving the Angels a 8-5 victory and a three-game sweep.
The Angels finally had some momentum in 2002 and it fueled them to an eight game winning streak to even their record at 14-14. But they did not stop there as they won 21 of their next 24 games that helped fuel the Angels into first place for a time. For good measure on June 9th Eckstein hit his third grand slam of the season to help the Angels to a 7-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Eckstein became only the second Angels player to hit three grand slams in a season with Joe Rudi being the other in both 1978 and 1979. Eckstein got the nickname as the X-Factor and he was definitely that in 2002 for the Angels.
Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan waves to the crowd after being introduced during the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies at Clark Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports