Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Correa's big night sinks Angels

The surging Astros moved to within a half game of second place in the American League West and reached the .500 mark in dramatic fashion Tuesday night, beating the Angels, 3-2, on Carlos Correa's two-run, walk-off single in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park.
Correa, who is hitting .381 in his last six games, drove in all three of the Astros' runs, including a solo homer in the fifth off Angels starter Hector Santiago -- his second homer in as many games. The walk-off hit was his third of the season.
"That's the situation I want to be in," Correa said. "I want to be in that situation every day. I want to be able to feel that pressure that drives me. I feel comfortable in that situation."
The Astros trailed, 2-1, in the ninth before loading the bases against Angels closer Huston Street on a pair of walks to George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez and an infield hit byJose Altuve, setting the stage for Correa's laser into the right-field gap to score a pair.
"The end's good, but I'm not sure you ever feel good when they've got their closer in the game and you're down a run," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It was good to see our guys continue to put up good plate appearances as the night got into their bullpen."
When the count ran to 3-2 on Correa, Street said he was trying to make him hit the ball at someone.
"I'm not trying to dot up right there and be perfect," he said. "I threw the exact pitch I wanted to throw, which was a fastball down in the zone, on the inner third. I wanted to try to get him looking out over, and he did a great job keeping his hands right inside the baseball." More >
The Astros (36-36), who are 29-19 since start the start of May and are only three games out in the Wild Card race, have won 11 of their last 13 at home.
"If you would have told me that we would be .500 on this date at the beginning of the season, we would have said, 'We should be better,'" Hinch said. "I want to keep it in proper perspective. Yes, I'm happy with how we've continued to grind and continued to play. We've shown some personality and are pretty tough .We've done everything we can to inch back to relevance, but this isn't going to accomplish anything. It's good milestone because of how the season started." More >
Left stranded: Mike Trout led off the sixth with a triple, after Springer came up short on a diving attempt for his blooper. But an Angels lineup that was without Albert Pujols -- taking a day off to rest a sore hamstring -- could not score him. Fill-in cleanup hitter Daniel Navastruck out for the third time, C.J. Cron hit a flair into Correa's glove and, after a walk by Jefry MarteJohnny Giavotella grounded out. The missed opportunity came back to cost the Angels.
"From the offensive end, obviously we didn't give much breathing room to our pitchers," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "And I think that probably highlights more how good Hector was. He had to pitch with his back against the wall and did a nice job."
Correa is clutch: Correa has shown a knack for coming through in the clutch at 21 years old, getting his third walk-off hit of the season. His homer was the 32nd of his career as a shortstop, which puts him second in club history for homers at the position. Adam Everett holds the club record with 35. Correa's seven career homers against the Angels are his most against any team.
"He's obviously calm and has poise," said Springer, who was on third when Correa delivered the game-winner. "He believes in himself. He knows he's going to get that hit. I turned to [third-base coach] Gary [Pettis] after his first pitch and said, 'This game's over.' You could see he was locked in and ready to get that hit." More >
Crushed: Cron hit a ball that may not have landed yet in the fourth inning, off a 1-1, hanging breaking ball from Collin McHugh. The ball traveled a whopping 467 feet, according toStatcast™. It was the Angels' longest home run this season and the fifth-longest this season, topped only by ones from Nomar Mazara (491 feet), Giancarlo Stanton (475),Franklin Gutierrez (473) and Hanley Ramirez (468). It was also Cron's first home run in 44 plate appearances this month.
McHugh delivers: McHugh held the Angels to two runs and five hits in seven innings, twice stranding runners who had reached third with no outs. After allowing the first three batters to reach to start game, he got three consecutive outs to limit the damage to one run. Trout led off the sixth with a triple and was stranded.
"One of the gutsier performances from McHugh," Hinch said. "I thought he was really good. The first inning could have been tragic for us. We started out with the first three hitters getting on base and it's never easy getting through that unscathed. They did get a run, but no big number. … Stranding runners at third is not easy to do."
"You have to believe there's enough time. I mean otherwise it's a total waste of time. I'm sure that the worst team in baseball, whatever their record is, still believes there's more time. And if they don't, then they're doing something wrong. Just because you're always trying to get better as a team. Whatever the front office does, that's their job." -- Street, on whether the Angels (31-40) have enough time to go on a run and avoid a sell-off in July
Trout caught Altuve's deep drive just before reaching Tal's Hill to end the first, covering 81.6 feet, attaining a route efficiency of 93.8 and running at a top speed of 18.7 mph, according to Statcast™. It was just one of a handful of defensive gem the Angels made.
With one out in the third, Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun played a line drive off the carom and made a strong throw to nail Luis Valbuena at second base, with help from a nifty scoop by shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Giavotella and Simmons then turned a slick double play to end the eighth, with Giavotella diving to his right and glove-flipping to Simmons, who caught the ball barehanded and made a jump throw to first with one motion.
The Angels got a call overturned in the first inning when Scioscia argued a pitch to Calhoun had struck him in the left foot. After replay, Calhoun was awarded first base. The Angels are 8-for-22 in getting calls overturned this season.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker takes the ball from Minute Maid Park on Wednesday and hopes to continue a dominant run. The 29-year-old right-hander has a 1.83 ERA over his last six starts, a 44 1/3-inning stretch in which he has struck out 55 batters and issued only two walks.
Astros: The Astros will send right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. to the mound in the 1:10 p.m. CT series finale against the Angels. He's coming off a solid effort in allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings of work in a loss to the Reds on Friday.

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