Noah Syndergaard came out throwing strikes and was rewarded with a scoreless 8 pitch first inning. Justin Verlander for his part was not so pitch efficient, although he did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon. Mike Trout was robbed of a home run by the Astros center fielder Chas McCormick. It was nice to see Trout make some good solid contact. He would get it right in the eighth inning. Unfortunately, the Angels offense was rather tepid this game although it was enough.
Thor got two quick outs to lead off the second inning before Kyle Tucker reached on a single to center field and then proceeded to steal second base. Jeremy Pena walked to bring up Jason Castro who grounded out to Walsh. Seventeen pitches for the second inning is not as cool as 8 pitches, but at least the Astros didn’t score. The Angels did, though, on a quick home Run by Walsh. Unfortunately Duffy, Rojas, and Stassi couldn’t get the ball out of the infield so the Second inning ended not with a bang but a whimper.
Chas McCormick singled but Jose Altuve gave the Angels their first double play of the day. Michael Brantley grounded out to bring the good guys back up. Brandon Marsh drew a walk but then was thrown out at second on a blown hit and run play. It looked like he tweaked something during his slide but he stayed in the game. Wade grounded out to leave the bases empty for Shohei Ohtani, who then struck out.
It was three up, three down for the Astros in the fourth inning. Noah Syndergaard was cruising at this point. Mike Trout came up and grounded into the shift. Anthony Rendon walked, but Walsh struck out. Matt Duffy singled to put two men on. Rojas then struck out to serve up the LOBsters.
Ouch! After two quick Astro ground outs, Syndergaard hit Jason Castro with a pitch to put a man on. McCormick grounded out to preserve the shutout through the fifth inning. Max Stassi started thing off in the Angels half of the fifth with a stand up double. Brandon Marsh walked again. Walk Forrest, walk! Tyler Wade moved the runners over with a sac bunt. Shohei Ohtani struck out and Mike Trout lined out to center to end the inning.
Jose Altuve grounded Thor’s 70th pitch to Duffy for the first out of the 6th inning. Unfortunately, he walked Michael Brantley whereupon he was lifted from the game. Aaron Loup came in and struck out Goodrum. Yordan Alvarez hit into a fielder’s choice to end the Astros half of the inning. Anthony Rendon struck out again. Jared Walsh went the other way for a single. Matt Duffy struck out. Walsh was caught stealing to end the inning.
Aaron Loup came out again to pitch the seventh inning. Aledmys Diaz reached on a throwing error by Anthony Rendon. Kyle Tucker made out on a fly ball to left and Ryan Tepera was brought in to replace Loup. Jeremy Pena hit an atom ball to Mike Trout. Jason Castro struck out. The Angels continued to nurse their one run lead going into the seventh inning stretch. The second coming of Jose Rojas resulted in a ground out to the shortstop. Max Stassi then struck out. Brandon Marsh beat the shift for a single. David Fletcher got into the game but was out on a fly ball to right field to end the inning.
Ryan Tepera came out for the eighth inning and retired the Astros in order. (Whew!) Shohei grounded into the shift for the first out. Mike Trout hit a blast into the rock pile to make it 2-0. That felt good. Anthony Rendon walked. Jared Walsh was out on a fly ball to center but Matt Duffy walked to send Rendon to second base. Jose Rojas then struck out to bring his LOBsters up to 4.
Raisel Iglesias came in and personally took care of the put out of Alex Bregman on a pop out. Yordan Alvarez hit into the shift for the second out. He struck out Aledmys Diaz to close out the game. Winning is better than losing, I must say.
Photo credit: Rex Fregosi