A good night's sleep might be overrated, as the bleary-eyed Angels can attest after an adrenaline-fueled 11-8 come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Thursday night.
The schedule threw the Angels a curve this week, forcing them to play Wednesday night in Seattle and take a midnight flight to Minnesota that got them to their hotel at 5:45 a.m. CDT on Thursday.
The Angels responded with a show of force, not fatigue, racking up 15 hits, including four home runs, and overcoming a 5-0 first-inning deficit to pull to within 2 1/2 games of Houston for the second American League wild-card spot with 16 games left. The Twins are 1 1/2 games behind the Astros.
Mike Trout provided the key blow, a second-inning grand slam to center field to cap a six-run rally that gave the Angels a 6-5 lead. The Angels hadn't scored six runs in any of their previous nine games.
Trout also lined a solo shot to left in the fourth — giving him 38 homers, 83 runs batted in and five multi-homer games for the season — and raced far into the gap in left-center to catch Aaron Hicks' third-inning drive, saving two runs.
"Getting to the hotel so late is tough, especially this late in the season, but it's September, we have to go now," Trout said. "We have 16 games left. Every one we play is going to be big. We need to win them all."
Trout, who also walked three times, seems to have recovered from an August slump in which he hit .218 with one homer and seven RBIs. In 17 games since Aug. 30, he's batting .310 with a 1.076 on-base plus slugging percentage, five homers and 10 RBIs.
The Angels also got huge contributions Thursday from the bottom of the order. Taylor Featherston had three hits, including a two-run homer in the third. Chris Iannetta, making his first start in eight games, had an RBI single in the second and a solo homer in the seventh. David Freese had three hits.
Once the Angels got the lead, they kept tacking on, their bats and their legs not losing any steam throughout the 3-hour 56-minute marathon.
"Mike does what Mike does, but we need to be more than a one-trick pony," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "If the only thing we have going is what Mike is going to do, it's not going to happen for us. He's part of the core of the lineup, but we need nine guys swinging it so we can pressure other teams."
Ironically, the player who flew to Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon so he could get a normal night of sleep — starting pitcher Hector Santiago — delivered the worst performance of the night.
The left-hander retired only two batters and was rocked for five runs and five hits, including Torii Hunter's three-run homer to the second deck in left field. It didn't help that C.J. Cron lost Brian Dozier's popup, which should have been the second out, in the twilight sky, the ball dropping for the double.
Eight relievers — Mike Morin, Cory Rasmus, Fernando Salas, Wesley Wright, Cam Bedrosian, Trevor Gott (two innings), Joe Smith and Huston Street (36th save) combined to give up two earned runs and seven hits in 8 1/3 innings.
"In the first, there's a feeling of, 'Aw, man, this one might have gotten away from us early,'" Smith said. "Then the offense responds, and the feeling in the bullpen is like, 'All right boys, it's up to us. Let's throw up some zeros, figure out how to scrap together 8 1/3 innings and win a game.'"