By Pete Zarustica
ANAHEIM – What looks like it might turn out to be a long-running show of the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros battling for the American League West title had another exciting episode Monday night when the Halos edged the visitors 2-1 and slipped past them – barely – back into first place.
Stars of the show were starting pitcher Andrew Heaney, who gave up just four hits over eight innings and struck out 10 batters, and Kole Calhoun whose defensive play kept the Astros at bay at a crucial moment. Oh, and there’s Justin Upton, who knocked in what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the sixth.
Heaney was just short of brilliant as he evened his record at 2-2. But after he came out of the game, the man who relieved him, Jim Anderson, almost gave it back. He yielded a leadoff single to George Springer and looked wobbly pitching to Alex Bergman. That batter hit a long fly to deep right that curled foul toward the seats, but Calhoun snagged the ball and threw a dart to Andrelton Simmons at second, who tagged out Springer trying to advance.
“It’s not just a good play by Calhoun, it’s a great play,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “He’s diving into the stands or at least leaning into the stands, and he was able to clear himself from the fence enough to make a full throw, which is probably why he leads the league in assists in the outfield. He had to make a perfect throw to get him out, and he did.”
The Angels had just four hits in the game, but none were bigger than Upton’s single to left which scored Martin Maldonado. The first Halo run came in the second when Luis Valbuena singled home Simmons for a 1-0 lead.
The series continues on Tuesday with Jaime Barria (3-1) going for the Angels (25-16) against the Astros (26-17).