By Pete Zarustica
With Mike Trout out with a thumb injury and surgery, the Los Angeles Angels need other members of the team to step up. On Wednesday it was Eric Young, Jr., who hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the eighth inning in Anaheim to lift the Halos to a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.
The victory solidified a bit the Angels grip on second place in the American League West Division. Their 28-28 mark puts them one up on the slumping Texas Rangers (26-28) and 11 games behind the streaking Houston Astros, who have won seven straight.
Young, just up from Triple-A Salt Lake, had a good night overall, getting two hits and a walk. He also made a great catch in left field. Since being called up, Young is hitting, .455 (5-for-11) and has stolen two bases. It’s been an impressive return to the big leagues for him; he last was in the majors in 2014 with the New York Mets.
“At the plate, he’s a tough little out,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He showed he can put a charge into a fastball tonight. Any time a player perseveres like EY does and they get an opportunity, it’s great to see them achieve. He gave us a big lift tonight.”
Young’s late game heroics overshadowed two other story lines. Albert Pujols, in pursuit of his 600th career home run, had to settle for a single. That did allow him to pass Babe Ruth in all-time hits, with 2,874.
Jesse Chavez pitched an outstanding game, working seven innings and giving up just five hits and one run. He struck out four batters and walked one. The “W” eluded him, however. That went to Blake Parker (1-2), who worked a hitless eighth.
The Angels will take on a new opponent Thursday when they host the Minnesota Twins (26-23) in the start of a four-game series. Alex Meyer (2-2) will get the starting call for the Halos.