ANAHEIM ― Whether the Angels wind up buying, selling, or standing pat before Friday’s trade deadline remains to be seen. Give credit where it’s due: the Angels have worked wonders just to make it interesting.
On the same day that All-Star first baseman Jared Walsh joined Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon on the injured list, journeyman utility player Phil Gosselin stood in as the Angels’ number-3 hitter. Batting behind Shohei Ohtani – whose MLB-leading 37th home run brought the Angels from behind earlier in the night – Gosselin’s eighth-inning single drove in the winning run in an 8-7 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Max Stassi and Justin Upton also hit home runs as the Angels (51-50) took two of three games in the interleague series with Colorado (44-58), the fourth-place team in the National League West.
Combined with the Seattle Mariners’ loss earlier in the day, the Angels gained a game on the team directly ahead of them in the AL West. They’re five games behind Oakland (57-46) for the second AL wild card berth.
Charged with protecting a one-run lead, Angels closer Raisel Iglesias couldn’t nail down a rare five-out save attempt.
Entering the game with a runner on first base, Iglesias allowed back-to-back singles with two outs in the eighth inning. The latter allowed Josh Fuentes to scamper home from third base and tie the score, 7-7.
After David Fletcher punched an opposite-field single through the right side of the infield against Carlos Estevez, Ohtani drew his second walk of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Fletcher then advanced to third base on a passed ball charged to catcher Elias Diaz, before Gosselin’s line drive to left field scored Fletcher with the go-ahead run.
Iglesias (7-4) nailed down the win by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney allowed three runs in six innings and left in line for the victory with a 6-3 lead. But right-hander Steve Cishek and left-hander Tony Watson allowed the Rockies to score three runs in the seventh inning, tying the score at 6-all.
Trevor Story’s two-run home run in the first inning put the Angels in an early hole. The Angels got one run back in the bottom of the first when Ohtani and Jose Iglesias sandwiched singles around a walk.
In the fourth inning, Heaney bounced a wild pitch in front of home plate with a runner on third base. Stassi couldn’t retrieve the ball and flip it to Heaney in time to prevent Díaz from scoring, giving Colorado a 3-1 lead.
After Adam Eaton and Juan Lagares struck out to begin the bottom of the fourth, Jack Mayfield lined a single to center field to knock Antonio Santos out of the game. Right-hander Jesus Tinoco took over, and a five-run rally broke out.
Tinoco hit David Fletcher with a pitch before Ohtani obliterated a fastball over the plate, giving the Angels a 4-3 lead.
Ohtani’s 37th home run electrified the announced crowd of 16,365 and set the single-season record for a player born outside North or South America.
The Rockies placed their scheduled starter, Chi Chi Gonzalez, on the COVID-19 injured list before the game. Left-handed reliever Lucas Gilbreath was the first of five pitchers to take the ball. Manager Bud Black informed Gilbreath, a 25-year-old rookie, he was starting the game Wednesday afternoon.
More to come on this story.