It was more than six months ago when right-hander Matt Shoemaker had no chance to get out of the way of a line drive. A drive that hit him in the head, required brain surgery and the beginning of a difficult comeback.
His return this season had been of the uneven variety, but Wednesday night he earned his first victory since the injury, the Angels rallying for an 8-5 win over the Oakland Athletics.
Shoemaker had what could be called an interesting night. Each of the innings he worked was something of a struggle, particularly the first three. By the end of the third he’d already thrown 72 pitches.
Yet he left two innings later with a 4-2 lead, and would earn his first victory since Aug. 29.
“Wins are always great, but the satisfaction is that we won,” Shoemaker said afterward. “It was a tight game and I battled through five. It’s awesome winning after that. That was the great thing.”
The Angels supported him with 14 hits, three each from Cameron Maybin and Kole Calhoun.
Shoemaker’s biggest struggle came early. The A’s got to him for two runs in the first. Jed Lowrie singled and took second when Shoemaker’s pickoff throw hit him in the back and rolled past first baseman Jefry Marte for an error.
After a walk to Khris Davis, Stephen Vogt hit a roller up the third base line that refused to go foul. The infield hit loaded the bases. Yonder Alonso lined a single to center to score Lowrie and Davis. It took Shoemaker 31 pitches to get out of the first.
He got into more trouble in the second when he gave up a leadoff double to Matt Joyce. Then he actually benefited from an error. Third baseman Yunel Escobar threw wild on an Adam Rosales bouncer, and Joyce broke for third.
But Marte recovered quickly, firing to third to get Joyce. When Lowrie doubled to left, Rosales had to stop at third, where he stayed after Ryon Healy bounced out.
The Angels rallied in the bottom of the inning against left-hander Sean Manaea. Marte started it, sort of, with a double. He mistakenly broke for third when Andrelton Simmons bounced to short and was easily thrown out.
With two outs, the Angels put three consecutive hits together, aided by A’s outfielders diving for and missing line drives. Danny Espinosa picked up a double when Joyce missed, scoring Simmons.
A Maybin single scored Espinosa and a Martin Maldonado double past a diving Jaff Decker in center scored Maybin to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.
“Obviously, he’s more comfortable in the box right now,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said of Maybin. “He’s hitting the ball all over and not trying to do too much.”
Manaea never returned after the second inning. The A’s said he had left-shoulder tightness.
The Angels made it 4-2 in the fifth when Mike Trout singled off Frankie Montas, stole second and scored on Albert Pujols’ line drive.
Shoemaker managed to make it through five innings, allowing the two runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out six, and it all took him 100 pitches.
“He did what he does — keeps you in the game, keeps just pounding the zone using all his pitches,” Scioscia said.
After an Alonso solo home run in the sixth off Yusmeiro Petit, the Angels scored four more in the seventh against wild Ryan Dull.