From a solid bullpen to the active offense, Thursday’s long overdue victory was the product of smart baseball, competitive plays and a productive lineup.
It’s been a rough six games for the Halos this week as they battled their longest losing streak of the 2021 season, but on Thursday night, the team said goodbye to the Houston Astros with a 3-2 victory that not only snapped their streak, but also reminded fans how powerful this team can be when smart baseball meets a hot offense and competitive plays.
Tonight’s win can be summed up perfectly by David Fletcher’s walk up song as it says: “People, it feels so good to be back.”
Alex Cobb (3.46 ERA) led the bullpen in his 2nd start since returning from the IL on Sept. 16. His performance kept the Angels from falling behind in the first few innings — a crucial step because the inability to recover offensively is a fate that plagued the team earlier in this series against the Astros. Instead, Cobb gave the offense plenty of time to get hot, retiring the first 9 batters he faced with ease and escaping a sticky situation in the 4th with bases loaded and one out.
Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (3.17 ERA) matched Cobb’s energy with three scoreless innings of his own, but his perfect game did not survive a run-in with Brandon Marsh in the 4th as he got the first hit of the game and kicked the offense into high gear. After Shohei Ohtani earned a walk, Phil Gosselin hit a single that grounded into a forceout for Ohtani at second, but not before the play left runners on the corners with one out and Jared Walsh at the plate.
Walsh was the hero that put the Halos on the scoreboard with his 86th RBI of the season— a sacrifice fly that scored Marsh to earn the team a 1-0 lead. Cobb continued to steady the bullpen and keep the Astros offense at bay until the 6th inning when a walk for designated hitter Kyle Tucker led to a few wild pitches that moved him all the way to third, where he scored off a single hit by Carlos Correa.
Cobb retired the game to Austin Warren (1.47 ERA), ending the night with a solid line of stats for his 2nd outing in the month of September.
Final Line on Cobb: 3.46 ERA | 5.2 IP | 4 H | 1 R | 3 BB | 4 SO
Warren, who is also fresh off the 10-day IL, secured the win tonight after taking over for Cobb. Warren silenced the opposing offense and kept their runs at 1 while the Halos bats kept making moves in the 6th.
After being walked 4 consecutive times for the first time in his career last night, Ohtani took another walk tonight, showcasing a controlled sense of patience in the box that kept him from chasing pitches that weren’t there. Amid chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP,” Ohtani snagged his 24th stolen base of the season and Walsh took first base on a walk. With two outs and runners on first and second, the Angels were dangerously close to falling victim to their usual weakness, which is missed opportunities with runners on base.
However, the Halos were not giving up, and the next plays were a thing of true beauty as Jack Mayfield came to play.
Last night, Mayfield earned the Halos a 2-run lead with a double that was driven deep into right field.
— Mark Gubicza (@Markgubicza) September 23, 2021
It was clear that Mayfield was not here to play games with his former team, and he carried that drive into tonight’s game, almost exactly recreating the same play to earn yet another lead for the Halos in this series. Fans were forced to ask themselves if they were having deja vu as the third baseman once again hammered a line drive into the outfield that scored Ohtani and Walsh, earning the Halos a 3-1 lead.
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) September 24, 2021
The Halos offense had another chance at glory in the 7th when Gosselin took to the batter’s box with the bases loaded and two outs, but a quick groundout shut down the possibility of a grand slam faster than fans would have liked.
Mike Mayers (3.91 ERA) and Raisel Iglesias (2.69 ERA) stepped in to close the game. Mayers pitched a scoreless inning in the 8th, and although Iglesias gave up one run in the 9th, he was still able to shut down the night and earn his 32nd save of the season, his 5th against the Houston Astros.
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) September 24, 2021
On top of a hot offense, the Angels defense stepped up with competitive plays that made for an exciting Thursday night. Fletcher reminded everyone why his name should be part of the Golden Glove conversation when he snagged a wild throw to make an impromptu tag at second to secure an out. Catcher Kurt Suzuki also played the field with a smart running hesitation that kept the Astros from running a double play in the 7th.
There’s no doubt that the losing streak was rocky, but if tonight showed fans anything, it’s that this team has the drive and potential to grow and keep moving forward. Tomorrow, they will welcome the Seattle Mariners to the Big A for their last home series of the season. José Suarez (3.67 ERA) will get the start on the mound with first pitch set for 6:38 p.m.
Thursday Notes & News:
- Joe Maddon said that if Sunday goes well for Shohei Ohtani, he will consider starting him in Seattle for the last game of the season.
- Shohei will start this Sunday against the Seattle Mariners.
- José Suarez (3.67 ERA) will open the home series against the Seattle Mariners tomorrow at 6:38 p.m.
- Angels selected RHP AJ Ramos’ contract today from Triple-A Salt Lake Bees.
- RHP James Hoyt was recalled today from Triple-A Salt Lake Bees.
- Reid Demters was activated from the IL, but he was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake Bees.
- Dylan Bundy (shoulder strain) and Justin Upton (right lumbar strain) were placed on the 60-day IL.
- RHP Jose Marte and LHP Sam Selman were optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake Bees today.