It didn't dawn on Taylor Featherston until well after he dunked his 13th-inning single into shallow right field to give the
This wasn't just the first walk-off hit of Featherston's budding big league career, a two-out poke of a
It was also Featherston's first hit in
"Yeah, dang, you're right, it's my first one," Featherston said, when informed by a reporter in the clubhouse. "Wow, it took some time, a little more than we'd like, but it couldn't have come at a bigger time, that's for sure."
Featherston, 25, would probably be better off playing every day at triple A, but as a Rule 5 pick who made the jump from double A to the big leagues, the Angels have to keep him on their roster all season or risk losing him to the
Featherston has been used mostly as a late-game defensive replacement at third base — he entered in the ninth inning Wednesday for that reason — and has started only nine games.
He had an .093 average (four for 33) when he stepped to the plate in the 13th inning and lofted his chip-shot winner just beyond the reach of first baseman
"Out of all the guys you want to experience a walk-off win, Taylor is at the top of the list," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's not getting a lot of playing time. He's out working at 3 p.m. every afternoon on his skill set, trying to stay sharp, and he got one to fall in. I couldn't be happier for him."
Featherston is a slick fielder with a strong arm who has looked overmatched at times at the plate, but he's doing everything he can to stay competitive.
"You have to emphasize your drill work, your work in the cage, and make everything game-like without seeing in-game velocity," Featherston said. "Whether it's turning the pitching machine up, constantly asking questions to guys like [assistant hitting coach] Dave Hansen about coming off the bench, how to approach at-bats … I've learned a lot.
"It's a new role, but I feel like every day I go out there, it's more comfortable. ... There are little traps you can fall in, but I'm learning how to avoid those and to stay positive. At end of day, life is amazing. I'm here in the big leagues, playing with the Angels. Life could be a lot worse."
A strong start by left-hander
Erick Aybar sparked the 13th-inning rally with a leadoff single against left-hander
Qualls replaced Thatcher and walked
"That's how this game works," Featherston said. "Sometimes you hit it hard right at somebody, and other times you hit it soft and it falls."
The hit moved the Angels to within 4 1/2 games of the first-place Astros in the
"Oh yeah, for sure," he said, when asked whether it was more special doing this against the Astros. "My dad was a big Rockets fan, Astros fan and Oilers fan back in the day, so it's always nice beating the Astros."