Matt Shoemaker was robbed of a chance to pitch his first complete game in the big leagues Tuesday night, but it was Mother Nature, not Manager Mike Scioscia, who gave the Angels right-hander the hook.
Shoemaker threw 94 pitches over eight innings, giving up two runs and five hits while striking out a career-high 10 in an eventual 9-3 win over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
But just as Shoemaker took the mound to warm up for the ninth inning, it began pouring, and the tarp was rolled onto the infield. Though it was just an 11-minute rain delay, Scioscia replaced Shoemaker with reliever Ernesto Frieri.
"Matt hasn't gotten over that 100-pitch mark very often," Scioscia said. "Once the rain came and the tarp was on, even though it was only 11 minutes, I thought it was better to not have him go out there and restart everything."
That hardly put a damper on the evening for Shoemaker, who improved to 4-1 with a 3.83 earned-run average and is making a strong push to remain in the rotation even after left-hander Tyler Skaggs returns from a hamstring strain.
"I guess it wasn't meant to be," Shoemaker said. "I thought if it was a real quick delay, I had a chance to go back out there. It's unfortunate, but I understand. As soon as I got out there to warm up, it starts raining. There's nothing you can do about that. It's out of my control."
So is the decision on whether Shoemaker or left-hander Hector Santiago will remain in the rotation after Skaggs returns, which could be as early as next week.
"I try not to think about that and just take it one day at a time," Shoemaker said. "Today was my start day -- try to go as deep into the game as I can, give the team a chance to win. I go out and pitch when they want me to."
Shoemaker did that extremely well Tuesday night, giving up one run on David Murphy's RBI groundout in the second inning, a solo homer to Lonnie Chisenhall in the fourth and retiring 13 of the last 15 batters he faced. He struck out the heart of the order -- Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana -- in the sixth.
"He was ahead of guys, he had a real good combination with his fastball command and breaking pitches, and his split was very good," Scioscia said. "Everything was down in the zone. That's how he can pitch, and it's great to see."
Even if Santiago edges him for the rotation spot when Skaggs returns, Shoemaker likely will remain with the team as a long reliever, the role in which he started this season.