A two-out home run ball bounced off the landscaping in Angel Stadium’s left-center field, ricocheting into the grass to give Kole Calhoun his 19th home run and the Angels a one-run lead as they beat the Seattle Mariners 4-3 on Sunday.
The 395-foot , which ended Calhoun’s skid at 0 for 25, was the second hit by the Angels on an afternoon where little else rolled their way. The Angels mustered only seven hits and were one for seven with runners in scoring position. The offense, which sparked once with left fielder Justin Upton’s three-run home run in the third inning and dimmed until Calhoun’s shot, combined for nine strikeouts. The Angels left four runners on base.
So when Calhoun, perhaps the game’s unlikeliest hero, stepped into the box against reliever Nick Vincent (3-4), the matchup seemed destined to produce an out. Calhoun had faced Vincent, a 32-year-old right-hander from Long Beach State, seven times and managed one hit.
But the script flipped. Calhoun worked a 3-and-1 count. Even after Vincent received a called strike on a pitch that tracking systems showed was outside the zone, Calhoun retained the upper hand. So Vincent tried to sneak an 88-mph cutter under Calhoun’s bat and failed. The sixth pitch of the at-bat came in at the knees. Calhoun reached for it and launched it, setting off the pyrotechnics in the outfield. It was his first home run at Angel Stadium since Aug. 10 and his in the 32 games that followed.
“It’s not always gonna work out,” Calhoun said. “There is no perfect recipe for this game.”
What Calhoun cooked up was enough, at least for the Angels, who enjoyed another scoreless relief outing from right-hander Taylor Cole (2-2) and a quick, three-strikeout save from rookie Ty Buttrey.
Before that, the Angels saw rookie starting pitcher Jaime Barria labor through a second consecutive start. Barria faced three batters in the first inning; beyond that, he was inefficient. He spent 32 pitches in the first two innings, needing 10 to strike out David Freitas in the second inning for his first of three strikeouts. He threw 82 pitches in five innings, gave up three earned runs and six hits.
Although he rebounded from a four-walk outing against the Texas Rangers on Monday by walking only one batter, Barria gave up a two-run home run to left-handed-hitting designated hitter Dan Vogelbach in the fourth inning.
Barria has given up a home run in each of his last two starts after giving up only one in his previous 34 2/3 innings over seven starts.
“I think after the home run from Vogelbach his stuff picked up,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think he got [ticked] off. He started throwing the ball like he can.”
David Fletcher’s rookie campaign on pause
Rookie second baseman and Orange County native David Fletcher strained his left hamstring.
He was replaced by Kaleb Cowart in the first inning Sunday after knocking his fifth double of September to the right-field corner. He pulled up as he was crossing first base and had slowed to a trot by the time he reached second base.
Fletcher will be re-evaluated Monday at Angel Stadium, where he’ll stay behind as the team embarks on a two-city jaunt.
“Hopefully, it’s nothing too serious where I can get back,” he said.
Since earning a full-time role in the Angels infield at the start of July, Fletcher has batted .268 with 17 doubles over 66 games. He has distinguished himself defensively, charged with only two errors in the 617 2/3 innings he logged after his mid-June call-up from triple-A Salt Lake.
“He’s definitely put his best foot forward when he’s had this opportunity to play everyday,” Scioscia said. “I don’t think you’re gonna make a determination on what a guy’s career is gonna be based on 300 at-bats, but there’s no doubt that David Fletcher has shown that he’s not intimidated or overmatched by anything happening on a baseball field and that really bodes well for the future.”
Tyler Skaggs scheduled to return
Left-hander Tyler Skaggs will return to the rotation this week in Oakland, where the Angels will play the first three games of their final trip of the season.
Skaggs, who has been sidelined for a significant time nursing adductor strains, is scheduled to start the opener Tuesday. He threw a bullpen session Sunday and reported no lingering effects from the injuries that derailed what had been an All-Star-worthy first half and career-best campaign.
Skaggs faced the Athletics the last time he pitched, on Aug. 11. Although he struck out five batters in 3 1/3 innings, he gave up 10 hits, including three home runs, and gave up seven earned runs.