Calhoun’s blast propels Angels to walk-off win over Mariners in extras
After he kicked Seattle’s behind Friday, Kole Calhoun was in turn kicked in the same spot.
At least that was teammate Luis Valbuena’s intent, the Angels celebrating Calhoun’s first career walk-off home run in the most animated of ways.
The drive — on the first pitch from Juan Nicasio in the bottom of the 10th inning — lifted the Angels to a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners and ignited the joyous home-plate scrum at Angel Stadium that featured Valbuena’s playful punt.
It also continued Calhoun’s recent surge after a brutal first few months. He now has six home runs in 10 games and 11 in his past 31 games.
There’s also this: the final swing pushed his batting average above .200 for the first time since mid-April.
“He’s back to being the Kole that we know is in him,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s a great time for him.”
The Angels’ offense won after their defense first saved them.
After retiring Guillermo Heredia to open the top of the 10th, reliever Jim Johnson gave up a single to Dee Gordon, who stole second and advanced to third when rookie catcher Jose Briceno’s throw skipped past Andrelton Simmons for an error.
Jean Segura then walked, setting up a double steal attempt by the Mariners. After taking Briceno’s relay in front of the bag, second baseman Ian Kinsler fired back home to get Gordon, who was initially ruled safe, the call overturned by replay.
“That’s not an easy thing to defend at times,” Scioscia said. “Those guys did a great job.”
Even in victory, the Angels had concerns. Albert Pujols was noticeably limping after making a key defensive play and Simmons finished the game with a back ailment.
“Hopefully, it’s nothing that’s going to keep him out of the lineup” Saturday, Scioscia said when asked specifically about Simmons.
In this era of intense pitch-count monitoring, starting pitcher Andrew Heaney needed only 64 to make it through seven innings. The only runs he gave up entering the eighth had come on two solo homers.
By that point, the Angels had turned two double plays behind him as the defense continued to support the pitching staff in a way the Angels only wish the offense would do more often.
Simmons also made a highlight stop on a vicious one-hopper by Kyle Seager, and Calhoun in right and Justin Upton in left both ran down drives that could have been hits.
The best of the defensive highlights, though, came on another ball Seager hit, one that might have cleared the center-field wall to tie the score 3-3 in the seventh had Mike Trout not been in the vicinity.
Trout tracked down the drive and secured the out with a leap just in front of the fence and the yellow line a ball must clear in order for it to be a home run.
It’s difficult to say if Seager’s ball would have been a homer. But it can be said with certainty that Heaney and the Angels were glad they didn’t have to find out.
With the Angels still up 3-2, Heaney gave up a double to Mike Zunino leading off the eighth. After a groundout advanced Zunino to third, the Angels pulled their defense in with Heredia coming up.
The Mariners’ No. 9 hitter more or less pushed a blooper just beyond the reach of a retreating Kinsler, the Angels second baseman unable to prevent Seattle from tying the score.
Heaney then gave up another single but rallied to strike out Segura and retire Mitch Haniger on a groundout, getting the Mariners’ second and third hitters to keep the score even.
That was the end of Heaney’s night, a night on which he pitched good enough to win but just not good enough to win this time.
“That was a great game from Andrew,” Scioscia said. “He threw the ball very well.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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