Angels’ loss is a minor miracle
Chris Waters had this going for him before Tuesday: He pitched seven shutout innings in his last start against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Otherwise there wasn’t much meat on the resume of the Baltimore starter who baffled the Angels in his major league debut Tuesday night at Angel Stadium during the Orioles’ 3-0 victory.
Waters was 3-6 with a 5.70 earned-run average this year for triple-A Norfolk and had compiled a losing record over nine minor league seasons.
The left-hander, who turns 28 on Aug. 17, was promoted to take the rotation spot of the ineffective Radhames Liz, who had been demoted to the minors on July 27.
Now Waters can say he helped shut out the team with the best record in major league baseball.
Waters held the Angels to one hit in eight innings before closer George Sherrill pitched a scoreless ninth for his 31st save. Waters allowed only one baserunner to get into scoring position.
“Probably the game of his life,” said Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, whose 15-game hitting streak ended when he went 0 for 4. “His first major league start, and he won’t ever forget it.”
Hunter said Waters befuddled the Angels by making adjustments each time through the batting order. He threw mostly fastballs the first time through, then mixed in more changeups the second time and curveballs the third.
“He looked like he knew what he was doing out there,” said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, whose team was shut out at home for the first time this season.
After walking Vladimir Guerrero with one out in the fourth inning, Waters (1-0) retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced. He had three strikeouts, walked three and hit one batter.
Erick Aybar led off the ninth with a single up the middle that Sherrill tried in vain to backhand, but the left-hander retired the next three batters to preserve the two-hitter.
The Angels continued their confounding habit of struggling against sub-.500 teams -- they are only 26-23 against teams with losing records -- by getting only one runner as far as third base. Gary Matthews Jr. reached third in the third inning when he was hit by a pitch with one out, went to second base when Jeff Mathis walked and took third on Chone Figgins’ groundout. But Aybar grounded out to end the inning.
“I thought we would get better looks as the game went along, but we didn’t,” said Scioscia, who dismissed the notion that his hitters struggled primarily because of their unfamiliarity with Waters. “When you get in the batter’s box you have to make adjustments and we didn’t get it done.”
Angels starter Jon Garland (10-7) struggled merely to record his first out. Baltimore led off the game with four consecutive hits, taking a 2-0 lead on Nick Markakis’ run-scoring double to right-center field and Melvin Mora’s RBI single up the middle.
Aubrey Huff singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out, but Ramon Hernandez grounded into the first of three double plays that would benefit Garland.
“I feel I did a pretty good job managing it and giving the boys a chance to come back and win this game,” said Garland, who allowed nine hits and three runs in seven innings.
Luke Scott’s solo homer in the seventh off Garland gave the Orioles an insurance run they, and Waters, wouldn’t need.
“As he made some adjustments, outs became easy for him,” Scioscia said. “He did what we expected; he pitched a good game.”