Jared Walsh’s four hits lead Angels’ rally over Astros

Jared Walshs four hits lead Angels rally over Astros
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The inning technically began with a soft pop out by Mike Trout.

It was the sound of Jared Walsh barreling up a baseball, however, that signaled the Angels’ rally was underway.

On a night Walsh went four for four with a walk — coming only a triple shy of the cycle — and made two key defensive plays, no moment was bigger than the powerful swing he took with one out in the sixth inning.

Walsh lined a home run over the wall in right, the first blow in what became a four-run rally that lifted the Angels to a come-from-behind, 5-4 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

“Pretty spectacular,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Walsh. “You can’t win that game without him out there tonight.”

When Walsh came to the plate in the sixth inning, the Angels were in a deep hole. They trailed the Astros 4-1. They were in the middle of a patchwork bullpen game. And they had found little success over the first five innings against Astros starter Luis Garcia.

Facing Walsh for the third time, Garcia got ahead in the count 1-and-2 with two curveballs. With the fourth pitch, Garcia fired a cutter in on Walsh’s hands. But the left-handed hitter was able to square it up and drive a bullet inside the right-field foul pole. It snapped the lineup awake.

Justin Upton launched a solo blast deep into the left field Crawford Boxes at the Astros’ home park, making it a one-run deficit.

It was the seventh home run of the season for both Walsh and Upton, and was the third time this season the Angels have hit back-to-back home runs.

Garcia was pulled from the game, giving way to reliever Brandon Bielak. But he immediately walked Jose Rojas. Taylor Ward then followed with a double into left. And Rojas scored the tying run in the next at-bat, when Phil Gosselin hit an infield single that was bobbled by Astros shortstop Carlos Correa.

With runners on the corners, Drew Butera came to the plate and dropped a safety squeeze in front of the mound.

Bielak charged and tried to flip the ball with his glove to catcher Jason Castro, but it sailed over Castro’s head, allowing Ward to score and everyone else to reach safely.

It gave the Angels a 5-4 lead. Their bullpen locked it down from there.

With the Angels’ original scheduled starter for Monday, Alex Cobb, on the injured list with a blister, the Angels opted for a bullpen game that began with Junior Guerra serving as the opener.

Angels’ Mike Trout scores as Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro waits for the throw during the fourth inning on Monday in Houston.

(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Guerra, however, managed only three outs in his start, charged with one run in the first and two runs in the second as the Astros jumped out to a lead.

Recently recalled left-hander José Suarez pitched the next four innings, giving up a lot of solid contact but only one run. Steve Cishek got in trouble in the sixth, giving up a double and walk while recording just one out, but was bailed out by Tony Watson, who retired the final two batters of that frame and all three he faced in the seventh.

The eighth and ninth innings were handled by Mike Mayers and Raisel Iglesias. Despite each having pitched the previous two days, they both looked sharp. Mayers retired the side in the eighth in order. In the ninth, Iglesias struck out his first two batters before stranding a two-out double to earn his sixth save.

But it was Walsh who provided the biggest contributions, tallying his second four-hit game of the season while collecting two RBI and raising his batting average on the season to .347. With 29 RBIs, he ranks second in the majors. His 1.020 on-base-plus-slugging percentage is good for sixth.

Walsh began the night with a single in the second inning, making it all the way to third before being stranded. In the fourth, he drove a double into right-center, scoring Trout all the way from first.

He had two chances to complete the cycle, but singled in the seventh and walked in the ninth.

Did the thought of a triple ever cross his mind?

“It enters your mind,” he said. “But I’d have to smoke a ball to right-center to get a triple. I’m not the fastest.”

Walsh has displayed just about every other tool though — he even handled a couple bad hops at first base in what was a strong defensive display as well — as he further cements himself as the Angels’ first baseman of the future.

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Maddon said, adding: “It’s not surprising.”

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