May 31, 2016
The crack of C.J. Cron’s bat told the whole tale. The night everyone could hit a home run, the man who won Tuesday’s game for the Angels was the only one to hit two. After the Angels blew a seven-run lead in two innings, Cron hit a walk-off two-run home run to beat Detroit, 11-9, at Angel Stadium.
Foretelling what would come, Miguel Cabrera launched a 449-foot home run off a Hector Santiago fastball in Tuesday’s first inning, and Justin Upton launched a 421-foot home run off a Santiago changeup in the second inning. They were the 12th and 13th homers the Angels’ left-hander yielded this season.
Gregorio Petit saved Santiago additional trouble in the second inning. Playing his third position in as many days, Petit received a high throw at second from catcher Carlos Perez on a Cameron Maybin stolen-base attempt and quickly applied a tag. After an Angels challenge, Maybin was ruled out, cramping the Tigers’ threat.
They threatened again in the seventh, when Santiago again encountered the command issues that plagued him early. He struck out Nick Castellanos, then walked Upton. He struck out Maybin, then walked James McCann.
Cam Bedrosian, perhaps the Angels’ most effective reliever this season, entered the game. His first action was to walk Jose Iglesias. His second was to battle Kinsler to a 3-and-2 count. He fired a high fastball, and Kinsler timed it perfectly, slamming it out to left field, inside the foul pole. The grand slam pushed the Tigers to within a run and set the stage for the late drama.
Kole Calhoun lashed a single to left on Anibal Sanchez’s first pitch. He moved to second when Mike Trout walked, and to third when Albert Pujols grounded into his league-leading ninth double play. Then Cron ambushed a changeup and hit it 409 feet for a two-run homer.
In the second, Cliff Pennington singled and took third with one out when Petit performed a successful hit-and-run. Tigers catcher McCann picked Petit off first, but Calhoun walked, and Trout skied a Sanchez fastball high into the night.
At first, Maybin seemed to think he’d catch it short of the warning track. Then he took a few steps back, and another few steps, and then he watched the ball leave the field of play. Trout had a three-run home run, the highest of his career by launch angle.
Pujols followed by lacing a ball at a much lower trajectory. It caromed off an advertisement on the left-field wall into Upton’s glove, and Upton threw to second to easily get Pujols trying for a double.
It was a rough night for the Angels’ erstwhile star. He hit into two double plays, raising his league-high total to 10. Additionally, Tigers reliever Warwick Saupold hit him with a fastball.
It was a wonderful night for Jefry Marte. Called up from triple-A Salt Lake to start at third base Tuesday against his former team, Marte did not make an out in four at-bats. Twice, he singled. Once, he doubled, and once, he homered.
Fifteen of the Angels’ first 23 batters reached base. They had further chances thereafter, but could not convert until the ninth inning.
In the seventh, Pennington bunted Marte over to third and pulled his left hamstring while reaching first base. He had just been activated from a two-week stint on the disabled list for an injury to the same hamstring, and he left Tuesday’s game immediately, replaced by Johnny Giavotella.
Giavotella was quickly doubled up, through no fault of his own on an unlucky line drive as the Angels’ inning ended.
Left in to handle the eighth and stretched to 32 pitches, Fernando Salas yielded a tying home run to Victor Martinez. For the tied ninth, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia brought in Huston Street, his closer.
Street had not pitched since April 23, absent because of a strained oblique. In his one outing in extended spring training, his fastball did not surpass 85 mph. But he reached 88 on Tuesday night and pitched a perfect inning.
Between the two teams, eight men hit home runs, the most to do so in a major league game this season. Eight men had not homered in one game at Angel Stadium since 2000.
Follow Pedro Mouro on Twitter: @pedromoura