mlb

O’Hoppe’s walk-off home run launches Angels over Astros

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Logan O’Hoppe’s first walk-off home run secured the Angels a 9-7 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday and a series victory.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Catcher Logan O’Hoppe hit a walk-off two-run offer, propelling the Angels to a 9-7 victory against the Houston Astros on Sunday at Angel Stadium.

The Angels catcher launched his first career walk-off homer against Astros closer Josh Hader, but that was part of his remarkable day. He also stole his first MLB base and recorded his second career four-hit game.  

“Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on today,” O’Hoppe said. “I think it’s just about staying disciplined and keeping it simple.

“It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the situation and the things that could happen as a result of it. But keep it simple, stick to what you’re good at and then execute that plan.” 

O’Hoppe’s homer was backed by an Angels offense that snapped a 15-game streak of scoring four or less runs. 

“We put it together today. We faced a couple of good arms and obviously another really good one today too,” O’Hoppe said. “I think the last two games were a wake up call for us and we turned it on today.” 

Manager Ron Washington said the offense’s recent lack of production is the product of missed opportunities.

“For the last couple of days, they’ve been having opportunities,” said Washington, whose team is 8-13 in one-run games. “They just haven’t been taking advantage of it.

“Prior to that, we were taking advantage of it, so the offense is not in the state where we have to panic.” 

Washington said the Angels have been tested by tough pitching, including the Astros’ Framber Valdez, who throwing a complete game Friday, and Hunter Brown, who kept them scoreless through six on Saturday.

“We faced some pretty good pitching over there with the Houston Astros,” Washington said. “Sometimes it’s not the offense. Sometimes, it’s the pitching and they threw two pretty good games at us.

“We got another challenge today with Justin Verlander.” 

Verlander is among the top Astros pitchers of all time with at least 700 innings, ranking first in ERA (2.45), opponent batting average (.192), winning percentage (.747) and WHIP (.88). On Sunday, he tossed five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts. 

With a lineup driven by young talent, Washington emphasized the importance of his players taking advantage of every opportunity that Verlander throws their way. 

“When he makes a mistake, make it painful,” Washington said. “That’s how you do it. And he will make a mistake.

“He might be good, but he’s not perfect so every time he makes a mistake, we’ve got to make him pay for it,” said Washington. 

The Angels offense did just that, stringing together their first three runs on sacrifice hits. Kevin Pillar, who is batting .330 this season with a .984 OPS, kicked off the second inning with a double — his sixth of the year.

O’Hoppe followed suit with a single before Nolan Schanuel scored Pillar with a sacrifice fly to give the Angels an early lead. 

The team’s situational hitting remained a crucial as Schanuel hit another sacrifice fly in the fourth to score Willie Calhoun, and Mickey Moniak laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Pillar. 

“What stood out the most was the way they handled Verlander,” Washington. “We worked him and we made him throw the ball in the strike zone.

“We didn’t do a whole lot of chasing, and he’s the kind of pitcher that gets a lot of chase. We had some big hits when we needed. That’s what it was today.”

Luis Rengifo hit a single and recorded his 16th stolen base of the season in the fifth inning and was scored by Calhoun with a RBI single. A two-out RBI single from Moniak scored O’Hoppe in the sixth, leaving the Angels trailing the Astros 7-5. 

Zach Neto scored O’Hoppe with a RBI double hit to center field in the eighth,and Michael Stefanic, who was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake ahead of Saturday’s game, scored Neto with a RBI, teeing up the ninth inning for O’Hoppe’s heroics.

Angels starter Patrick Sandoval pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts. 

“They showed some resilience,” Washington said. “They come everyday and they work hard, and it’s nice to see that their work paid off because they didn’t give up today.”

The Angels finished their homestand with a 4-2 record. They are off Monday before visiting the Arizona Diamondbacks for a three-game series.