Angels beat A’s with Pujols’ walk-off two-run home run
Last month, Ji-Man Choi grinned when he was asked how he learned to do the splits.
He never quite learned how, he said. He only learned one day that he could, out of necessity. The 230-pound South Korean’s unintentional flexibility enabled the Angels to beat Oakland, 8-6, on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.
Bequeathed a two-run lead in the eighth inning, Fernando Salas loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a single. J.C. Ramirez entered, quickly walked in a run, and then induced a grounder to Yunel Escobar’s left. Escobar bobbled the baseball before turning it to Cliff Pennington at second, who threw low to Choi at first base.
As he has done an improbable amount of times this season, Choi stretched his legs to their limits. In this instance, his unlikely maneuver prevented Oakland’s run that crossed the plate at the same time from counting and preserved the Angels’ 6-5 lead.
“That didn’t look very likely when Esky double-clutched,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.
The Athletics tied the game in the next inning, but Mike Trout led off the bottom of the ninth by diving head-first into first base, and Albert Pujols soon launched a two-run homer.
Neither Pujols nor the man who gave it up, Ryan Dull, had any doubts about the ball’s impending departure. Pujols stood near the plate admiring its flight for several seconds, then received his teammates’ admiration after circling the bases.
“It’s nothing really special to me,” Pujols said. “I look at it as just another homer.”
Jered Weaver was the Angels’ Wednesday starter. While the rest of his teammates watched the walk-off from the dugout before spilling onto the field, he saw it, he said, while sitting naked in his comfortable chair in the clubhouse.
“So, it was awesome,” he said.
Two months ago, Weaver threw one of the best games by a major leaguer this season against Oakland, when he needed only 95 pitches to record 27 outs. At the Oakland Coliseum, the Athletics hacked at everything he offered, popping up an array of fastballs in the low 80s and changeups somewhere in the 70s.
Five days later against the same team at a ballpark where he has had almost unprecedented success, Angel Stadium, Weaver could not finish five innings. They waited him out, took more called strikes, and battered eight hits for four runs.
Call Wednesday’s six-inning, four-run outing against the Athletics a blend between the two, then, as Weaver enticed them into early contact and turned it into a reasonably successful performance. It was a night emblematic of the 33-year-old right-hander’s season.
“Weav did what he does,” Scioscia said. “He competes. He doesn’t give in.”
The first run he yielded scored on a double-play ball after back-to-back singles to begin the second. He permitted another run in the third, aided by a tapper that bounced off his glove for a hit, and then an errant throw from Escobar on a ground ball.
Escobar atoned for his mistake by aggressively taking second base on a flyout to center in the third inning. When Stephen Vogt let a baseball pass him by, Escobar took third, and he scored on a Mike Trout bloop single.
That was the Angels’ second run. Carlos Perez first notched a two-out infield single to score a run in the Angels’ half of the second. After Oakland’s Ryon Healy doubled in two in the fourth, Pennington and Jefry Marte launched solo shots. And, in the fifth, the Angels pushed across two more runs with two hits and sharp baserunning.
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia insisted Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon that Cam Bedrosian would not become his definitive closer. But twice since Huston Street’s knee injury, he has had save opportunities, and twice he has chosen Bedrosian.
Whereas Bedrosian blew away the Athletics the previous night, striking out the side to convert his first save chance, Oakland mastered him Wednesday. He recorded only one out, and it was on the basepaths. He issued three walks and two singles, and left the bases loaded for Mike Morin.
“I suppose I didn’t have my best stuff,” Bedrosian said. “The walks didn’t help.”
Morin threw two pitches. The first was a slider, the pitch he was sent to triple-A to improve at June’s end, taken on the corner for a strike by Danny Valencia. The second was a changeup, tapped back to Morin and turned into an inning-ending double play. The right-hander pumped his arm as he walked off the mound, his first major league outing in five weeks wonderfully efficient.
Aug. 4, 12:05 a.m.: This post was updated with additional quotes.
This post was originally published Aug. 3 at 10:50 p.m.
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.