Angels beat Orioles on Matt Thaiss’ ninth-inning home run

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error PreviousBaltimore Orioles’ Stevie Wilkerson, top, scores on a double by Jonathan Villar as Trey Mancini, left, signals and Los Angeles Angels catcher Dustin Garneau, second from right, stands at the plate along with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Angels starting pitcher Felix Pena looks at his bleeding thumb during the second inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Pena left the field briefly to clean the wound and came back to continue. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLos Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, lines out during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Matt Thaiss, right, is congratulated by Andrelton Simmons, center, after hitting a two-run home run as Baltimore Orioles catcher Chance Sisco kneels at the plate during the second inning of a game Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, bats during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Matt Thaiss, top, heads to third after hitting a two-run home run as Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Dylan Bundy walks off the mound during the second inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Baltimore Orioles right fielder Trey Mancini, center left, watches a ball hit by Los Angeles Angels’ Matt Thaiss go for a two-run home run during the second inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, lines out during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Felix Pena throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Dylan Bundy throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game Los Angeles Angels Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Baltimore Orioles’ Stevie Wilkerson, top, scores on a double by Jonathan Villar as Trey Mancini, left, signals and Los Angeles Angels catcher Dustin Garneau, second from right, stands at the plate along with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)NextShow Caption1 of 10Baltimore Orioles’ Stevie Wilkerson, top, scores on a double by Jonathan Villar as Trey Mancini, left, signals and Los Angeles Angels catcher Dustin Garneau, second from right, stands at the plate along with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ExpandANAHEIM – Twelve games into his major league career, Matt Thaiss’ sense of humor is showing big promise. He hit two home runs Sunday, including the game-winning shot in the bottom of the ninth inning of the Angels’ 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Albert Pujols hit one home run.“We have 654 combined,” Thaiss joked.The third and fourth homers of Thaiss’ career also marked the culmination of a series of swing changes that transformed him from a high-contact, high-on-base hitter at the University of Virginia to a legitimate power threat in the span of three years.The Angels are more concerned with Thaiss’ swing than his sense of humor. His 2-for-4 effort lifted his batting average to .189. While his big moments have been few and far between, Thaiss has driven in nine runs in his first 12 games. “I made good pitches, but I made that error and I paid for it,” Peña said through an interpreter. “But I did what I could to do a good job and my teammates helped me out.”The Angels led 2-1 with two outs in the fifth inning when the Orioles surged into the lead. With a runner on first base, Peña bobbled a softly hit comebacker off the bat of Hanser Alberto, then threw the ball wildly to first base. Pedro Severino advanced to third on the error.The next batter, Jonathan Villar, drove in Severino with a game-tying single. Villar advanced to second base on an errant throw by Angels left fielder Brian Goodwin. Trey Mancini drove in both runners with a single of his own, giving Baltimore a 4-2 lead.Peña allowed four runs in five innings, but only one was earned by virtue of the errors. The right-hander walked three batters and struck out five. Luke Bard relieved Peña and threw 2 ⅓ innings without allowing a run. Taylor Cole (1-1) finished the game with 1 ⅔ scoreless innings, earning his first win since Sept. 2018.The Angels trailed 4-2 when Kole Calhoun singled against Orioles starter Dylan Bundy to lead off the sixth inning.The next batter, Pujols, had a green light on a 3-and-0 count when he launched the 650th home run of his career to left field. The game was tied 4-4, and Pujols was able to check off a big milestone of his own: He’s the first player in major league history with 650 home runs and 650 doubles.“I think it’s 20,000-plus players that have come through this game. To be able to be the only one to do that is pretty special,” Pujols said.The game stayed tied until Thaiss faced Mychal Givens with one out in the ninth inning. After falling behind 0-and-2, he worked the count full before punishing a fastball. The ball traveled 395 feet en route to the right-center field bleachers.“I don’t know if I would’ve gotten that pitch three years ago,” Thaiss said. “It’s just a testament to these guys, how much they know and how much they work.”“These guys” are the Angels’ hitting coaches, Jeremy Reed and Shawn Wooten. Thaiss said he’s worked with the pair the past few seasons, employing “minor ticks and adjustments” to transform his relatively powerless stroke into a potential game-changer.“Not too many people know what me, Jeremy and Shawn went through a couple spring trainings ago,” he said. “It was a long process. A lot of swings, a lot of blisters. I can’t thank those guys enough for what they did and how they helped me, and the time they put in. Nobody really sees that but they put in a lot of time.”Thaiss’ two-run home run in the second inning came on an 0-and-2 count. Both his home runs Sunday served as a testament to the fact that some things never change.Thaiss struck out only 16 times in 60 games during his final season at Virginia. The Cavaliers’ head coach, Brian O’Connor, was not a fan of hitters who took called third strikes. Thaiss said the punishment for such an act was a couple sprints around the field. He still remembers them with disdain.“I’ve tried to carry that approach here,” Thaiss said. “Maybe for a year or some time it got away from me, but it’s always something I want to go back to.”center_img The win allowed the Angels (55-52) to avoid an embarrassing four-game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles (35-70). They had never lost all four games of a home series to the Orioles, who are on pace for their seventh-worst season since joining the American League in 1901.The Angels host another bottom-dwelling team, the Detroit Tigers (30-70), for three games beginning Monday. The trade deadline is 1 p.m. Wednesday. The Angels are five games behind the Oakland A’s in their own division, and in the race for the second American League wild card berth.“We needed a win and a walk-off definitely helps,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “We could barely afford to go a few more innings. Our relievers are about as taxed as they’re going to get at any point in a season. So it ended up being a huge home run, not because it’s a walk-off win, but because it saved our pitchers having to throw another inning or two.”The Angels lost a 16-inning thriller that began late Thursday and ended early Friday. They burned through 10 pitchers that night, including starter Griffin Canning. Angels relievers pitched four innings the next night and five on Saturday. Sunday’s win was a panacea.Angels starter Felix Peña battled through a thumb injury, and at times his own defense, to pitch five innings before an announced crowd of 35,447 at Angel Stadium.last_img read more