As the Angels traveled to Chavez Ravine Monday night for the 2nd game of their pre-season matchup, Angels starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker demonstrated how good he can deal, throwing 4 shutout innings at windy Dodger Stadium. Angels fans witnessed not only solid pitching from Shoemaker and the relievers, but they also saw a glimpse of the Angels’ stellar defense.
In the first play of the game, last year’s NLCS MVP Chris Taylor hit a blooping fly ball into center field that two-time MVP Mike Trout had to rush full speed and dive at flat-out extension for an outstanding catch. What was at first ruled a “no catch” on the field turned into an out when instant replay overturned the call.
2015 Gold Glove winner Kole Calhoun followed up with a defensive gem of his own in the beginning of the 2nd inning. Cody Bellinger led off by hitting a rocket into the right field corner which Calhoun picked up after a bounce off the wall. Bellinger decided to test the Angels defense, never breaking stride on his way to third base. Calhoun fired the ball to shortstop Andrelton Simmons who relayed a one hopper to Jeffrey Marte at third. Marte expertly scooped up the ball and applied the tag to the head-first sliding Bellinger for the first out of the inning. Text book defensive relay at its best.
Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill’s record in spring training dropped to 0-2 with a 7.30 ERA after the Angels piled on 4 runs in the 3rd inning. Zack Cozart singled; a catcher’s interference call advanced Trout to first base; and Justin Upton then singled to right field. The funny thing was that Upton’s fly ball landed in Puig’s glove as he dove for it and popped out of his glove before he hit the ground for a base hit. With the bases loaded, Albert Pujols stroked a 2-1 fastball into the left field wall for a bases-clearing double and 3-0 Angels lead. Two Dodgers defensive mistakes put Hill in a tough spot, and Pujols did not waste the opportunity. Pujols had 101 RBIs last season, tied for 9th in the AL. Simmons singled Pujols home with a ground ball hit to left. The throw from Matt Kemp in left beat the hustling Pujols home, but catcher Austin Barnes could not hold on to the throw. That made it 4-0 Angels, and the Dodgers could never recover.
Angels relievers Keynan Middleton, lefty Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian and Blake Wood kept the Dodgers scoreless through the 8th inning. Projected Angels closer Blake Parker pitched the 9th and allowed a home run to Andrew Toles. The final score: Angels 4, Dodgers 1.