Freese's walk-off HR, Trout's catch lead Angels past M's 3-2
Sep. 27, 2015
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mike Trout initially thought he had no chance while he tracked Jesus Montero's drive into deepest center field. He stuck his cleat in the wall anyway, lifting himself on his throwing arm atop the fence and extending his glove.
Every so often, Trout departs from his everyday excellence and does something truly transcendent for the Los Angeles Angels.
So even after David Freese hit a walk-off homer and closer Huston Street got hurt in the ninth inning of an important 3-2 victory over Seattle on Saturday night, everybody just wanted to bear witness to Trout's catch, which saved three runs and helped to keep the Angels in the thick of the playoff race.
"I've never seen a better one," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Trout made his jaw-dropping snare in the fourth inning, robbing Montero of what appeared to be a certain three-run homer. The AL MVP's athleticism elicited gasps, screams and two standing ovations from the Angel Stadium crowd, which happened to include his visiting parents.
"I 100 percent knew it was going out," said rookie left-hander Andrew Heaney, who gave up Montero's fly. "I was in disbelief. I didn't know what to do. It was crazy. You know you're playing with the best player in the game."
Trout couldn't resist watching the replay on the scoreboard, a wry smile on his face. He even thought it was better than his famous leaping, wall-crashing catch in Baltimore three years ago, robbing J.J. Hardy.
"I thought it was pretty cool," Trout said. "Honestly, I didn't think I could catch it, and then once I got up to the wall and then I looked back up at it, I said, 'Man, I've got a chance to catch this ball.'"
Trout did it — but the Angels still trailed 2-1, and their busy evening wasn't over.
C.J. Cron homered for the second straight night for Los Angeles, connecting for the tying shot in the sixth inning.
Street then had to be helped off the field in obvious pain after finishing his follow-through on a pitch. The AL saves leader appears to have a groin injury, Scioscia said.
"It's not good," the manager said.
Jose Alvarez and Fernando Salas (4-2) each got one out with gutsy performances in place of Street, who has 40 saves.
Freese led off the ninth with his third career walk-off homer in a regular-season game, connecting off Danny Farquhar (1-5). The 2011 World Series MVP — who ended Game 6 that year with an extra-innings homer — set off a wild celebration for the Angels (80-74), who stayed a half-game behind Houston (81-74) for the second wild-card spot.
"To be able to play with guys like Albert (Pujols) and Mike (Trout), it's a privilege," Freese said. "We're all just trying to contribute and keep us going."
Los Angeles also moved four games back of Texas (84-70) in the AL West race. The Angels and Rangers finish the season with a four-game series in Arlington.
Rookie Ketel Marte hit his first major league homer for the Mariners, who have lost four straight.
Mariners ace Felix Hernandez yielded eight hits and two runs, but likely lost the chance to win 20 games for the first time in his impressive career when he left a tied game before the seventh. The Seattle ace has 18 victories, but is expected to get only one more start this season.
"It's disappointing, because I want to get to 20 every year," Hernandez said. "But what are you going to do? Just work hard and be ready for next season. But I'm not done yet."
Street faced two batters in the ninth before doubling over in pain when he threw a pitch that led to Franklin Gutierrez's groundout. Los Angeles already is without Joe Smith, its second-best reliever and eighth-inning specialist, after he sprained his ankle on a hotel staircase. Scioscia expects to know more about Street's injury Sunday.
Mariners: Vidal Nuno will start on three days' rest Tuesday against Houston, filling in for James Paxton, who has a torn fingernail.
Angels: Scioscia hasn't decided whether Tuesday's starter will be Nick Tropeano or Matt Shoemaker, who has a stiff forearm.
Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma (9-4, 3.67 ERA) is 7-2 in his last 10 starts.
Angels: Jered Weaver (7-12, 4.86 ERA) makes the final regular-season home start of his worst big league season.