Angels beat Devil Rays 10-7, cut magic number to 5 to clinch AL West
Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman each had three hits and two RBIs, and the Angels lowered their magic number for clinching the AL West to five with a 10-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Monday night.
This was the 17th time the Angels have scored 10 or more runs, and the 11th time in their last 50 games. And they did it without the benefit of a home run.
“Our team is not a home run-hitting team and our park’s not built for that,” Figgins said. “We’ve got guys who can run. And when you’ve got athletes, you can do a lot more things.”
Darren Oliver (3-0) allowed two hits in 1 2-3 scoreless innings for the Angels, who had 18 hits. Los Angeles overcame deficits of 2-0 and 4-3 and also wasted leads of 3-2 and 6-4.
Escobar gave up six runs, eight hits and two walks in four-plus innings, the fourth straight start in which he failed to pitch through the sixth. One of the runs against him was a straight steal of home by B.J. Upton in the third.
The Angels right-hander has a 10.19 ERA during his last four outings, raising his overall ERA from 2.77 to 3.46.
“It’s been tough on me my last four games,” Escobar said. “For some reason, I’m out of synch and I’m fighting with myself to get back into my rhythm. I just have to find a way to fix it and finish strong.”
Escobar left with a 6-4 lead after Tampa Bay loaded the bases with none out in the fifth, and Oliver relieved. Akinori Iwamura scored on second baseman Howie Kendrick’s fielding error, and Greg Norton came home on a fielder’s choice grounder by Delmon Young—his third RBI of the game. But Oliver kept the score tied by retiring Dioner Navarro on a bases-loaded flyout.
Edwin Jackson (4-15) lost his third straight decision, allowing seven runs— four earned—and 14 hits over 4 2-3 innings. Figgins chased the right-hander with a tiebreaking, two-out RBI triple over the head of Upton, who was playing shallow in center and appeared to have trouble picking up the ball off the bat.
“Most defenses are taking away most of Figgy’s stuff in front, because that’s really where he predominantly hits the ball,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But once in a while, he’s got that power. That ball was squared up.”
Upton also committed a throwing error that allowed Garret Anderson to score during the Angels’ three-run sixth. Lefty Jeff Ridgway faced two batters in his major league debut, giving up a run-scoring single by Kotchman and an RBI triple by Kendrick, making it 10-6.
Kotchman has four hits in his last five at-bats, lifting his average to .294. He’s driven in 65 runs.
“Casey’s hit in bad luck all year,” Figgins said. “With him being a run producer, when he hits a ball hard and it gets caught, it makes it tough on him. Eventually you want the hits to start falling in, especially with runners in scoring position. But he’s still swinging the bat well and he’s fighting through it, so he’s going to be all right.”
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who spent six seasons as Angels bench coach and 31 years with the organization altogether before taking the Devil Rays job, is 0-6 at Angel Stadium. He was ejected by plate umpire Bruce Froemming in the top of the seventh. Three of Maddon’s six career ejections have come in games against Los Angeles.
The Angels reached the 50-win mark at home for the seventh time in the franchise’s 47-year history. The last time they did it was 2002, when they recorded their best home record (54-27) and went on to win the World Series.
“In this ballpark, they’re back to that swarming kind of offense they had when they won the world championship. So they’re looking very reminiscent of that time,” Maddon said. “They just kept wearing us down.”
A fielding error by second baseman Brendan Harris and a blown call by first base umpire Mark Wegner helped the Angels score three unearned runs in the second inning and take a 3-2 lead.
Tampa Bay responded with two in the third. After Young’s groundout brought home Carlos Pena, Upton took advantage of Escobar’s slow windup, broke for the plate with Harris at bat and slid in under the tag of Jeff Mathis for his 18th stolen base.
The Angels went back in front 5-4 in the bottom half with RBI singles by Kotchman and Nathan Haynes, who made his third start in center field while Gary Matthews Jr. sat out for the sixth straight game with a sprained right ankle.
Tampa Bay LF Carl Crawford will not play in this three-game series because of a groin strain and is to be re-evaluated on Friday. Crawford, who leads the AL with 50 stolen bases, was injured trying to beat out an infield single Sunday.