Improbable Victory Followed by Heartbreaking Defeat for the Angels

Tyler Anderson

A day after the Angels came back from being down by six runs in the seventh inning and three runs in the ninth to beat the Houston Astros 13-12, they returned the favor on Sunday Night Baseball, where they had a four-run lead in the eighth and heartbreakingly lost 9-8.

This game felt like a disaster waiting to happen for the Halos because starting pitcher Tyler Anderson allowed heavy traffic on the bases along with getting into deep counts, raising his pitch count. Anderson was lucky and was able to wiggle his way out of those jams, but his pitch count continued to soar. Manager Phil Nevin was forced to go to his bullpen to start the fourth inning because Anderson had 85 pitches already despite only giving up one run. Anderson’s final line was 3 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, and 5 K. 

Despite Anderson’s struggles, the Angels still had a lead for most of the game thanks to a second-inning home run by Mike Moustakas (his second straight game with a home run) and Trey Cabbage’s two-RBI double in the fourth. Cabbage would finish his first career start 3-3 with the two RBI double and two singles; all hit to the opposite field.

The Astros were held scoreless until the seventh inning because they were 3-17 with runners in scoring position, leaving 13 runners on base throughout the game. It was not until Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers homered off Jacob Webb in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 3-3.

The Angels responded right away after a leadoff single by Trey Cabbage led to Andrew Velazquez pinch-running for Cabbage and scored from first on a double by Zach Neto. Then Taylor Ward came up huge with the bases loaded and cleared the bases with a double the other way to give the Angels a 7-4 lead heading to the eighth inning.

Angels closer Carlos Estévez was forced to enter the game in the eighth because the Angels used five bullpen arms the night before, one of them being Matt Moore, who made his first appearance after missing over a month with an oblique injury. Another pitcher from Saturday, Chris Devenski, injured his hamstring and must go on the injured list. This means that Estévez, Jaime Barria, and Aaron Loup were Nevin’s only options, and he chose to have his best face the heart of the Astros order.

It did not work out for the Halos as Estévez gave up a two-run home run to McCormick. McCormick’s second home run of the day brought the Astros within two in the top of the eighth inning.

Nevin would not let Estévez go out for a second inning of work since he pitched the night before, so Jaime Barria was brought in for the ninth to close things out. This is where the wheels fell off, and the Astros pulled within one run after Mauricio Dubon grounded out and scored Blig Madris. Needing just one more out to shut the door, Barria left a slider down Broadway for Alex Bregman on the first pitch, who hit it to the Astros bullpen to take an 8-7 lead. The next batter, Kyle Tucker, homered deep into the right field pavilion for an insurance run. 

Chasing two runs, Shohei Ohtani hits his MLB-leading 34th home run to dead center to make it 9-8 with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Mickey Moniak hits a bloop single, and Moustakas walks to bring the tying run into scoring position with two outs for Matt Thaiss. Thaiss lined one into the right-center gap, but Kyle Tucker made the diving play to cap off his 4-5 day at the plate with a home run and two RBI. 

Tucker continues his dominance over the Angels, where he slashes .272/.354/.578 with a .931 OPS and 18 home runs in 66 career games against Halos. The 18 home runs are the most by Tucker against a single opponent in his career, the second being 14 against the Oakland Athletics.

The Angels lost 9-8 and the second half’s opening series. The Angels are now 46-48 and are six games out of the last Wild Card spot. This also marks the seventh straight series that the Angels have lost against the Astros, and they hold a 78-119 record against the Astros all time. 

Tonight, the Angels start a three-game series against the visiting New York Yankees, who have been almost identical to the Angels in the sense that they are 13-17 in their last 30 games, and the Angels are 12-18 in that same span. The probable starters in this series are Luis Severino versus Griffin Canning in game one, Domingo Germán versus Patrick Sandoval in game two, and Carlos Rodón versus to be determined in game three. Barria was scheduled to start game three but will no longer do so since he pitched last night.

Jack Janes

Journalism major at the University of La Verne. Played college baseball at Fullerton College and the University of La Verne. Also write for Inside The Rink.

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