The Angels' Shoemaker almost always aims low with that pitch, his splitter. When he's succeeding, he's hitting that target. But he will always be susceptible to the occasional home run, because when the pitch ends up higher than he hoped, it's hittable.
In Thursday’s first inning, the Astros’
In the second inning, an Alex Bregman drive to right landed in and bounced out of Kole Calhoun’s glove. It was ruled a double. Shoemaker next walked Evan Gattis and allowed both baserunners to move up because of a wild pitch, but he tantalized
In the fifth, Gonzalez slammed a ball 395 feet to center field, deep but not deep enough.
"They ran into a couple, but that's going to happen," Shoemaker said. "My game is to be aggressive. When we're successful, that's the plan. Overall, we executed well today. I'm definitely pleased, but I still want to do better."
Brandishing a tight slider, McCullers carried a no-hitter through four innings. Even afterward, the Angels' successes were tinged with failure.
"We're having chances at the plate with guys on base," Trout said. "We're just not capitalizing."
Andrelton Simmons shot McCullers’ first pitch of the fifth into left for a single, but was soon caught in a pickle between first and second base and tagged out. In the sixth, the Angels had two singles, but
“He’s tough to pick up,” Angels Manager
Indeed, over the last three seasons, McCullers has a 1.57 earned-run average against the Angels over 34 1/3 innings in five starts.
When McCullers issued a pair of two-out walks in the seventh, Astros manager A.J. Hinch pulled him. Hinch went with right-hander Chris Devenski, a Cal State Fullerton product who has increasingly dominated in long-relief appearances.
He struck out
On a 2-and-1 pitch to
Up came Espinosa, needing only a single to tie the game and potentially push the Angels ahead. He struck out.
"We got ourselves into position, had the go-ahead run at second," Scioscia said. "He pitched out of a little bit of trouble. But we got some good looks at him in the ninth inning. Give him credit: He made some good pitches to get out of it."
With one win in seven tries on the road trip, and seven wins in 17 tries this season, the Angels flew home for a four-game series against similarly struggling Toronto. They did permit only 12 runs in four games against Houston, and they're insistent that, at least, that successful pitching provides confidence for the future.
"Obviously, this was a rough trip for us," Scioscia said. "One of the things that are important started to materialize, and that's starting pitching getting to a certain point in the game. That has to happen if we're going to do what we hope to do, and it's good to see."