Ah, elusive victory. Sometimes so very close for the Angels, more often blindly out of reach.
It was some bad stretch the Angels were going through. They weren’t getting blown out every night as much as simply pushed aside, very rude-like. In their 10 previous games they had squeaked out a win exactly once.
Only Saturday offered a glimpse into another baseball life, one rife with timely hits and serious starting pitching, one that resulted in a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Angels used a grand slam from shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the third inning and some stellar pitching from left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-1) to seize an elusive win.
For Simmons, it was only the second slam of his career. Simmons has been hitting with more power this season. It was his third home run of the season.
Right-hander Casey Lawrence (0-2), called up from triple A prior to the game, walked Kole Calhoun to open the bottom of the third inning and innocently enough begin his trouble.
Mike Trout’s ground-rule double moved Calhoun to third and C.J. Cron walked to load the bases.
Simmons wasted no time, jumping on Lawrence’s first pitch and sending it out to center field.
Skaggs went seven-plus innings, scattering seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
It made for a nice turnaround for Skaggs. After giving up five earned runs in each of his first two starts, he has given up two total runs in his last two starts.
“Sometimes you just have to get your feet wet,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “His pitches, and his ability to repeat them and be more consistent with them has improved. Really, with every outing, from start to finish.”
When Skaggs surrendered a double to Ryan Goins to lead off the eighth, Scioscia went to right-handed reliever Kirby Yates, called up from triple A prior to the game.
Yates gave up a two-run homer to Kevin Pillar to pull Toronto within 5-3. Yates also gave up a drive in the gap to Jose Bautista but right-fielder Calhoun made a great diving catch to rob Bautista.
The night never would get any better for Yates. He gave up another home run in the ninth to Justin Smoak to make it a one-run game.
With all three of their would-be closers on the disabled list after placing Cam Bedrosian on it Saturday, the Angels called on Bud Norris. He quickly gave up a single to Steve Pearce.
Simmons snared a hard hit by Devon Travis and, while on his knees, flipped the ball out of his glove to second baseman Danny Espinosa to start a double play.
“We said we cracked the door open for them [Friday] night,” Scioscia said. “We slammed it shut tonight with great defense. Four double plays, Kole in right-center. We made plays.”
Norris struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the first save of his nine-year career.