ANAHEIM, Calif. — With the trade deadline looming and the No. 3 American League wild card spot up for grabs, the Angels’ playoff odds hinge on every game, making Saturday night’s victory against the Houston Astros an important one.
“To say it was needed was an understatement,” said manager Phil Nevin.
The Angels walked it off against the Astros in the tenth inning on a throwing error, marking their third walk off win of the season. After tonight’s victory, the Angels are five games back from the No. 3 wild card spot with a 46-47 record.
“If anybody ever says that this team doesn’t care, doesn’t fight, doesn’t play hard, I’ll fight anyone who says that. They do. I told you, they prepare to win and they play to win every day,” said Nevin.
The Angels made their largest comeback of the night in the seventh inning when they erased a six run deficit. Zach Neto kicked off the rally with his seventh home run of the season — a two-run shot hit off Framber Valdez — and Eduardo Escobar followed up with an RBI single to score Taylor Ward who was walked by Ryne Stanek. But, it was Mike Moustakas who secured the 9-9 score by launching his seventh home run of the season into right field to score three runs.
“It was a fantastic team win,” said Moutakas. “It’s a great lineup, and when we get our guys back, it’ll even be better. But, you know, we got to go out there and keep finding ways to score more runs, keep finding ways to win ball games. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how it gets done as long as you get a W, it’s a good thing.”
The tied game didn’t last long as Matt Moore, who took the hill for the first time since being reinstated from the IL (right oblique strain), gave up a two-run home run to Chas McCormick in the eighth. Against Tucker Davidson in the ninth, the Astros added on one more run after Yainer Diaz’s RBI brought home José Abreu. But the Angels weren’t done fighting.
In the ninth inning, Shohei Ohtani launched his MLB-leading No. 33 home run 404 feet into center field, slicing the Astros lead to 12-10 before Taylor Ward, Mickey Moniak and Escobar loaded the bases with no outs.
“I think I saw smoke behind the ball,” Ward said about Ohtani’s home run. “There’s no give up in our team. We just continue to fight, and I think that was the spark that ultimately won us the game.”
After Ohtani’s home run, Ward scored on a wild pitch from Ryan Pressly, and Hunter Renfroe tied it all up with an RBI single, driving the game into the tenth. All-Star closer Carlos Estévez, who earned the win for the night, kept the game scoreless in extra innings.
Ghost runner Trey Cabbage who made his MLB debut last night against the Astros scored the winning run on a throwing error to first made by Grae Kessinger.
The Angels took the field behind Reid Detmers who has shown promise as a strong arm in their starting rotation. Though tonight was not his best performance of the season, Detmers succeeded in pitching longer into the game, going six innings while allowing four runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts. He said after the game that he struggled in the third and fourth inning, but felt back on track coming in for the fifth and sixth.
“He’s got to be better in the fourth inning,” said Nevin. “To be the elite pitcher in this game that he can be with his stuff, those things can’t happen. He’s going to get there. We’re still talking about that he’s 2-3 years out of college. We got to remember that. He’s getting there. Those innings are fewer and far between, but for us to win a lot of games and for him to get in the win column a lot more, those innings have to be smoothed over.”
It’s also worth noting that Luis Rengifo, who was pulled from last night’s game after not hustling for a ground ball, put the Angels on the board in the first with a three-run home run, giving the offense an early spark that continued to burn throughout the night.
Although the offense was determined in their comeback approach, the Angels bullpen did not have its finest outing. Detmers handed the game off to Chris Devenski in the seventh, who allowed five runs on five hits in 2/3 innings, leaving the Halos with a six-run deficit that they erased with that seventh inning offensive run. Moore followed up with two runs, and Davidson performed better by allowing only one run.
“We got to get Devenski back going again and he’ll tell you the same thing,” said Nevin. “He was huge for us and we’ll get them back there. We just lost some pitches today.”
Moustakas, who pulled the team together on Thursday for a meeting, said after the game that he hopes tonight will provide them with a lot of momentum going forward.
“The way the whole game unfolded was fun. It was fun playing baseball, and obviously fun winning. To go out there and win that way, it’s awesome,” said Moustakas.