Mike Scioscia knows that not all comeback victories are created equal.
"We've talked a lot about that statistic, and I think it's a little watered down," the Angels manager said. "If you're trailing, 1-0, in the first inning and end up winning, I believe they count it as a come-from-behind win."
That's true, but there was nothing soggy about the Angels' emotionally charged 6-5 victory over Seattle on Sunday, in which they spotted the Mariners a 3-0 first-inning lead and roared back with two runs in the ninth against one of the best closers for their major league-leading 30th comeback victory.
Albert Pujols drove Mike Trout home from first base with a score-tying double to right field against Fernando Rodney. The two Angels punctuated the play by pretending to shoot arrows at each other, a response to Rodney pointing his signature bow-and-arrow schtick toward the Angels dugout after getting the last out of the eighth.
Josh Hamilton followed with a single to left field, moving Pujols to third base. Howie Kendrick was intentionally walked to load the bases and Rodney, who leads the American League with 27 saves, nearly escaped the jam by getting David Freese to bounce into a shortstop-to-home-to-first double play.
But after the left-handed-hitting Efren Navarro was intentionally walked to load the bases, Grant Green, who was hitless in his first four at-bats, grounded a single to center field, the Angels pouring out of their dugout to engulf Green in celebration while Rodney trudged slowly off the field.
Green's heroics gave the Angels their eighth walk-off victory and their second in three days after Navarro, who has bounced between triple A and the big leagues this season, hit a game-winning single in the 16th inning Friday night. It was the Angels' ninth comeback victory in which they've erased a deficit of three runs or more.
"I keep saying you never know who's going to step up. It was Navarro the other night, Greenie today. It's fun to watch," said Trout, who hit a home run in the third inning, singled and scored in the seventh and sparked the ninth-inning rally with a leadoff walk.
"The majority of our wins this year have been comebacks. We definitely feel confident, even if we're behind. We never give up. That's the biggest thing about this team. We keep fighting to that last out. We're having great at-bats and not trying to do much in pressure situations."
Rodney, who had two of his worst years as Angels closer in 2010 and 2011 but rebounded to star for Tampa Bay in 2012 and 2013 and now Seattle, gave up two runs in his last 21 innings before Sunday, when he suffered his third blown save.
"To come back against a guy like Rodney is huge," said right fielder Kole Calhoun, who hit a third-inning home run, singled twice and scored twice to help the Angels win their club-record 10th consecutive home series. "He's one of the best closers in the game.
"He's an All-Star, someone they expect to get the job done every time. Any time we can win a game like that, it gives us the confidence that we have one of the best offenses in the game and can score no matter who's out there."
Left-hander Tyler Skaggs gave up three runs and five hits in a 31-pitch first inning but needed only 50 pitches to blank the Mariners on one hit over the next five innings. The early three-run deficit hardly fazed the Angels.
"We still have nine innings left to play," Trout said. "I tell the pitchers that. Go out there and keep battling. Skaggs gave us a chance. He could have easily put his head down and come out of the game, but he pitched well for us.
"We never put our heads down. We never think we've lost a game in the fifth or sixth inning. We're always fighting until the last out. The biggest thing is everyone knows their role, we have great team chemistry, and we're having fun in here."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times