At 5:30 p.m. Friday at Minute Maid Park, Cameron Maybin participated in one last session of batting practice to prove to the Angels he was ready to be activated from the disabled list.
At 6 p.m., they reinstated him and inserted him atop their lineup. And at 7:11 p.m., the outfielder took control of a game the Angels went on to win 9-4 over the American League West-leading Houston Astros.
“I just really enjoy creating some havoc out there,” Maybin said.
Since they were shut out Wednesday in Detroit, the Angels have amassed 20 runs in two games. They reached base 20 times Friday, paced by Maybin’s two singles, double, walk and career-high four stolen bases.
“My timing was actually much better than I thought it’d be,” he said after spending 10 days off because of a bruised oblique.
Said Astros manager A.J. Hinch: “It made me wish he spent one more day on the DL.”
Maybin began the game with a cue-shot single. Soon, he stole second and third, while Albert Pujols and Yunel Escobar drew walks. In a two-and-two count, Luis Valbuena checked his swing on a fastball below the zone, the seventh pitch of his plate appearance.
Given a reprieve by third-base umpire Bill Miller, he passed on Astros starter Brad Peacock’s next pitch and walked to force in a run.
The Angels managed more in the second, after Eric Young Jr. singled and Danny Espinosa walked. Peacock promptly picked Young off second base, but Maybin smashed a ground-rule double to right to score Espinosa. Kole Calhoun rapped a single to right to score Maybin before Pujols grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Nori Aoki grounded out to first, where Valbuena stepped on the base and fired home, hoping for a double play. He missed it by a few feet, a run scored, and Jake Marisnick’s subsequent infield single scored another. Andrelton Simmons, though, alertly threw back to third to catch Bregman off base and end the inning.
The Angels scored more in the third, fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth. First, Escobar doubled down the left-field line, and Valbuena singled to right-center, scoring him. Then, Maybin singled on the infield, stole second, continued to third when the throw to second was errant, and jogged home on a Calhoun single. Maybin pilfered his fourth base after he walked in the sixth inning. No Angel had stolen that many bases in 24 years.
Following his last steal, Maybin took third on a ground-out and scored on a sacrifice fly. Martin Maldonado supplied two more runs with a home run in the seventh, and Escobar singled in Calhoun to cap the scoring in the eighth.
In 45 games this season, Maybin has stolen an American League-leading 17 bases, more than he stole in over twice as many games last season.
“He’s now in a position, hitting in a lineup, where we need to incorporate that running game, although batter’s box offense is obviously important,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re gonna try to take advantage with anybody that can try to push the envelope on the bases.”
Shoemaker worked around a leadoff double in the third inning to retire 13 consecutive hitters until Gonzalez notched a one-out single in the seventh. Bregman then crushed a two-run homer.
The Angels right-hander finished off the inning, then ceded the mound to David Hernandez and Jose Alvarez for the rest.
The Angels (32-32) climbed back to .500, though they remain 12 1/2 games behind the Astros, who entered Friday as the first team in a decade to score five or more runs in 12 consecutive games.
Three hours before the game, a stadium official walked into the Angels’ clubhouse, grabbed a marker and wrote in large letters on the whiteboard: ROOF OPEN. He circled his work and walked away, never learning the extent to which he had surprised the opponent.
“Wow,” massage therapist Yoichi Terada said as he walked by the board. “First time, I guess.”
It is rare for the roof to be left open this late in the year. The fact that it was Friday quickly became the talk of the clubhouse, among players and coaches. It’s unclear what effect, if any, it has on game play, but it’s clear the Angels won’t protest if it remains open for the rest of this weekend series.
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura