Angels beat Dodgers in an unusual walk-off

on Jun29

The Angels’ winning run stood at second base, in the form of the swift Ben Revere. With one out in Wednesday’s ninth inning, the score tied, Cameron Maybin awaited a 2-and-2 pitch from Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez. Yasmani Grandal called for a sinker, low, and waited to position his glove so as not to give away the pitch’s intended location.

Baez threw a changeup. Maybin whiffed at it, Grandal did too, and Revere took off running. As he neared third, he thought about trying for home if Grandal threw to first to finish the strikeout. He was pump-faking down the third base line when he saw the throw evade Chase Utley at first base, and he sprinted home to finish off the Angels’ 3-2 walk-off victory at Angel Stadium.

No team had recorded a walk-off win on a strikeout since 2010.

“That ninth inning was really a turn of events,” said Revere, who reached on an error. “I don’t know if [Utley lost his] concentration. Plus, with Cam running, I know Grandal tried to get rid of it quickly. That’s why he airmailed it.”

Earlier, the Angels’ Andrelton Simmons had seen enough. Twice, he had taken first-pitch curveballs from Hyun-Jin Ryu, one for a ball, one for a strike. As he stepped to the plate with two outs in a scoreless sixth inning, Kole Calhoun standing at second base, he resolved to be ready for a third.

It came just as anticipated, and Simmons swung with all of his might. He watched the ball soar through the hefty marine layer beyond the left-field fence and flipped his bat with impunity. On an unseasonably boisterous night in Anaheim, his ambushing strike supplied much of the offense.

The Angels said they sold 44,669 tickets, marking the fourth sellout of 2017 and the second-largest crowd at the ballpark since its 1998 renovation.

The early on-field events were subdued. Sixty-three minutes into the game, Jefry Marte singled into right for the game’s first hit. It began the bottom of the third inning. Yunel Escobar next drew a two-out walk in the fourth. Down 0 and 2, Simmons drilled a 101-mph line drive back at Ryu, off of the pitcher’s left foot. Appearing in pain, Ryu stayed in after examination and induced an inning-ending grounder.

“He’s going to be pretty sore tomorrow,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Ryu worked around a two-out single in the fifth, then surrendered a ground-rule double to Calhoun to begin the sixth before Simmons’ strike. He gave up two more singles, which ended his outing. Facing left-hander Grant Dayton with the bases loaded, Revere stroked a line drive to the warning track, where Yasiel Puig tracked it down.

“My first grand slam,” Revere said he thought to himself. Almost.

Major league scouts refer to Alex Meyer as one of this baseball season’s great mysteries. In some starts, he pitches as well as most anyone, alternating between pumping 98-mph fastballs and plopping in 86-mph sliders. In other outings, his command compares to a junior college pitcher, eclipsing everything else he can offer.

As the Angels’ starter, he offered both versions of himself. He was a mess through the first three innings, walking five Dodgers, throwing more balls than strikes.

“Every time I get in trouble, a lot of it’s because of me,” Meyer said. “With walks, specifically.”

Two pitches into the fourth, Angels manager Mike Scioscia and trainer Eric Munson visited the mound, alarmed by a Meyer wince. The pitcher had just been upset at himself, he later clarified. He stayed in. Grandal soon singled up the middle for the Dodgers’ first hit, but Meyer finished the inning on 11 pitches. He cruised thereafter and exited after six scoreless innings.

“If I had just thrown strikes earlier in the game,” Meyer said, “I probably would get to keep pitching.”

After Yusmeiro Petit pitched a perfect seventh, Trayce Thompson started the eighth with a 413-foot shot to left against rookie Keynan Middleton. With two outs, Justin Turner drove a ball 381 feet to right-center field, where Maybin caught it with his back against the wall.

Cam Bedrosian entered for the ninth, seeking his first save since April 18. He struck out Cody Bellinger on three sliders, induced a first-pitch flyout from Chris Taylor on another slider, and then hung a 3-and-2 slider to Grandal, who clubbed it to center field just beyond the wall.

Grandal was the game’s hero for 17 minutes. He did not regret throwing to first base, and he did not regret putting force into the throw because of the threat Revere presented at third. But he knew he’d bear the weight of the defeat.

“The home run doesn’t matter when you lose the game,” he said.

Twitter: @pedromoura

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