Tyler Skaggs gave his club exactly what it needed Saturday. Less than 24 hours after the Angels’ bullpen was taxed with 9 1/3 innings of relief, Skaggs became the first L.A. starter to pitch into the eighth inning, holding the Blue Jays to two runs through seven-plus frames in Saturday’s 5-4 victory at Angel Stadium.
The 25-year-old southpaw appears to have put his early season struggles behind him. After yielding five earned runs in each of his first two starts, Skaggs has put together a strong showing in consecutive outings. He followed up seven scoreless innings in Kansas City last weekend with Saturday’s promising performance.
“He’s getting a chance to get his feet on the ground, get into the season,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Sometimes you need a little time, I think his pitches and his ability to repeat them and be more consistent with them has improved, really with every outing from start to finish. He put it all together tonight.”
Skaggs’ outing was an encouraging sign for the Angels, who will be without Garrett Richards for an extended stretch. Richards, who has been sidelined with a right biceps strain since his season debut on April 5, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list prior to Saturday’s game. L.A. entered the game with a 28th-ranked starters’ ERA of 4.72.
“I knew coming in that I have to throw my allotment of 100 pitches and try to go as far as I can,” Skaggs said. “The team really picked me up and helped me out a lot.”
Skaggs ran into early trouble, surrendering a walk and back-to-back one-out singles to Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak in the first inning, but settled in to limit the Jays to five hits and one run over his remaining six-plus frames. Skaggs exited in the eighth after surrendering a leadoff double to Ryan Goins, who later came around to score on Kevin Pillar’s two-run blast.
Skaggs benefited from a stellar defensive display by the Angels, who turned four double plays throughout the night.
So for a second straight game, the Angels tapped into their resilience and scored three runs in the ninth to tie the game, setting the stage for Carlos Perez’s game-winning safety squeeze in the 10th, which lifted the Halos to a 6-5 win over the Rangers at Angel Stadium.
“When you start to get closer and closer, you start to think, ‘We’re going to do it again,'” left fielder Cameron Maybin said. “The chatter in the dugout was just that. We came back from seven, we can get three. I think Sunday’s win was huge. It lets us know we’re never out of a ballgame. You saw it tonight. And we come with that mentality every day.”
The Angels were down by as many as five runs on Tuesday following a rocky outing from left-hander Tyler Skaggs, but they gradually chipped away at the deficit. Jefry Marte got them on the board with a solo shot off Rangers starter Cole Hamels in the seventh, and Maybin made it 5-2 with an RBI double in the eighth.
Danny Espinosa ignited the Angels’ big ninth with a leadoff homer off Texas closer Sam Dyson. After Yunel Escobar doubled, Mike Trout came up to the plate with two outs and fell behind, 0-2, to Dyson. Trout took two sinkers from Dyson on the outer edge of the plate before ripping the next one to right field for an RBI double, bringing the Angels within one.
“I took some tough sinkers down and away,” Trout said. “I kind of put it in the back of my mind, ‘He might come back with it. Don’t give up on the ball away.’ He’s got good stuff. I just got a pitch I could do a little damage with.”
Albert Pujols then tied the game with an RBI single to left to force extra innings. Trout helped Cam Bedrosian post a clean 10th by making a leaping catch at the center-field wall to nab a line drive off the bat of Mike Napoli, though it was unclear if the ball would have been a home run.
“It’s hard when you lose that kind of game,” Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano said. “It’s like nothing is going our way. But you just have to keep fighting.
The hit probability of Pujols’ game-tying single was 37 percent, according to Statcast™, with an exit velocity of 91 mph and a launch angle of zero degrees. For Pujols, it was his 19th hit (out of 312 total) on a ground ball to right field in the Statcast™ era.
“Albert got the big hit,” said Pennington, who followed Pujols with a single to right to score Trout for his sixth career walk-off hit. “His at-bat is the one that if he gets out, we lose. If I get out, we just keep playing. So Albert’s the one who got the big hit. That’s what he does. He knows what he’s doing.”
In all, the Angels sent 11 men to the plate and combined for five hits and four walks.
“We found some holes, those guys helped us with a couple walks and we just had good at-bats all the way through,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. “That’s some incredible clutch hitting at the end and good at-bats all the way through. Obviously, that’s a huge deficit, but we just kept playing baseball and got a couple breaks and Penny got the big hit.”
Sunday was the Angels’ first walk-off win of the season, and the first time the club scored at least seven runs in the ninth to win a nine-inning game by one run since Aug. 29, 1986, when the Halos rallied with eight runs to beat the Tigers.
“That’s called not giving up to make 27 outs,” Pujols said. “That’s the beauty of the game, you think you can flip a coin and it’s over, and it’s not until it’s over.”