Angels' youngsters step up in comeback win over Blue Jays
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Angels rookie J.B. Shuck didn't really remember what happened after he leaped for the ball and then disappeared into the left-field stands Friday night at Angel Stadium.
It was kind of a blur. But it was also a pretty incredible moment.
“It's a cool feeling,” he said.
Cool because Shuck may have made the catch of the year in the Angels' 7-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The left fielder stole a home run from Toronto's Jose Bautista in the fourth inning, timing his jump at the short wall in left, leaping to make the catch and then falling into the stands unhurt. It prevented two runs from scoring and kept the Angels in position to win their second game in a row.
"You don't play many games where there's a catch like that, (where) somebody goes in the stands and robs a home run," said Angels teammate Kole Calhoun, who celebrated the catch from right field. "I was fired up. Plays like that are what make baseball fun.
"We need stuff like that."
The Angels need a lot of it. While they struggle to keep themselves mathematically in the American League West race, it's their kids who are giving them an emotional boost.
Shuck, who made the 25-man roster out of spring training, had a single, double and triple, scored two runs and drove in one – a nice complement to his spectacular defense.
Calhoun hit his first big-league homer, a two-run shot in the eighth inning that broke a 5-5 tie. Calhoun was 4 for 5, giving him six hits in two games, and is batting .444 since he was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake last Sunday to replace an injured Albert Pujols.
And third baseman Chris Nelson, summoned from the minors on Wednesday, was 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs. His eighth-inning double preceded a triple by Shuck that tied the game.
Those three were in stark contract to the heart of the Angels' order – Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo – who were a combined 1 for 16. Trumbo struck out four times, and Hamilton stranded six base runners.
So at least this one night, youth was served.
"They're going to get an opportunity, and any time you get an opportunity it's important for any player," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's an important time for everybody in our clubhouse. We need to put things together and start playing consistent baseball. Whether it's a kid with an opportunity or a veteran going out there to do a job, we need to play better."
Shuck had a chance to watch his catch after the game, but at the time he made it, he couldn't recall exactly what happened.
"He hit it pretty high, so I had time to get back to the wall," he said. "It started coming down, and I knew I would have a chance at it. I just jumped and tried to go get it. I don't really know what happened after that."
Then there was Calhoun, who was hitting .354 at Salt Lake at the time he was called up. His homer off Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar just cleared the fence in right and came with one out in the eighth.
Even after the game, Calhoun was still letting it settle in.
"It was awesome," he said. "It's kind of still going through my head right now. It was like the best feeling of my life."
It's one the Angels would like to hold on to.