The relay throw from Kole Calhoun traveled rapidly to Andrelton Simmons, and the Angels shortstop decided before receipt that he’d keep the chain going and try to eke an out at third base. He transferred the baseball from his glove to his hand and let go without choosing his target. It landed in the stands, and Josh Donaldson, Toronto’s tagging-up runner, touched home for the game’s first run.
“Live by the sword, die by it,” Simmons said. “I’ll stick to it.”
That overthrow Saturday at the Rogers Centre marked the first error by an Angels position player in one month. The team’s 21-game error-less streak was the second-longest by any team in the last century, according to STATS LLC. The 2010 Giants, who won the World Series, went 23 games.
“This team is capable of playing really, really good defense,” Simmons said. “We’re going to make mistakes, but we’re keeping it minimal, and that’s really good. We played good defense again, except for me.”
That defense again helped prop up the team’s unproven pitchers in a 6-5 comeback victory over Toronto. The Angels were forced into a so-called bullpen game because of another pitching injury, this time to Alex Meyer. They turned to a long reliever making his first start of the season and an undrafted free agent making his major league debut.
Yusmeiro Petit and Troy Scribner surrendered three runs, two earned, in a combined seven innings, and the Angels (51-54) rose to five games behind an American League wild-card qualifying spot.
The Angels’ winning rally arose at once, with one out in the ninth inning against Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna. Kole Calhoun smoked a single up the middle, Martin Maldonado took a pitch off his armguard, and Ben Revere doubled down the right-field line. That halved the Angels’ two-run deficit, and they soon tied the score on a wild pitch.
Cliff Pennington then lifted a fly ball to shallow center field, and Revere ran hard and slid headfirst to beat the throw home.
Called upon for the bottom of the ninth, closer Bud Norris walked two Blue Jays and threw away a pickoff attempt, but still recorded his 16th save. He jammed Jose Bautista with a cutter and induced a double play.
Petit handled the first three innings without issue, just as was hoped. As he began the bottom of the third, Scribner began to stretch in the Angels’ bullpen, first throwing a ball above the bullpen to one of the 13 family members and friends who came to see him pitch. David and Gail Scribner, his parents, obtained last-minute passports to make it.
For the fifth, Angels manager Mike Scioscia chose rookie right-hander Keynan Middleton, who surrendered two runs on a walk and two doubles.
The Angels mustered only one Mike Trout infield hit until the sixth inning, when Shane Robinson whacked a single on starter Francisco Liriano’s first pitch of the frame. With one out, Yunel Escobar and Trout mashed back-to-back singles to score Robinson. Up came Albert Pujols, who came to bat having failed to reach base in 23 consecutive plate appearances, a career-high stretch. He drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases.
After C.J. Cron struck out, Simmons ripped a 99-mph single into left that scored two to tie it. Toronto then vaulted ahead in the sixth against Scribner, as Miguel Montero launched a changeup 421 feet to center for a two-run home run.
“I’ve given up a ton of home runs in my life,” Scribner said, unfazed. “I know exactly what it looks like, what it feels like.”
He traversed the seventh and eighth as Donaldson, Bautista and the Blue Jays’ other big bats pounced on early offerings, hit them hard, but repeatedly flied and lined out.
“They were aggressive, and I didn’t really expect it,” Scribner said. “I thought they’d be patient. I’m in the big leagues. But they were very aggressive.”
Scribner, 26, took home the win, three game-used balls and two lineup cards. His first major league stint will be brief, but he dined with all of his assembled visitors Saturday to celebrate his win and Gail’s birthday.
“Take your mom out to dinner,” reliever Brooks Pounders told him upon hearing that. “Thank her for making you.”
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura