Ohtani, Moustakas homer to spark Halos' stunning comeback

July 16th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- Well, that’s one way to end a losing streak.

It was incredible enough that the Angels scored six runs in the seventh inning to tie the game, keyed by a game-tying, three-run homer from with two outs. But then they made up a three-run deficit in the ninth inning against Astros closer Ryan Pressly, who hadn’t given up a hit in exactly a month.

Two-way superstar sparked the rally with his MLB-leading 33rd homer to open the ninth before a run-scoring passed ball and an RBI single from Hunter Renfroe tied the game.

And after All-Star closer Carlos Estévez held the Astros scoreless in the 10th, the Angels scored on a throwing error with two outs on a potential double play to get a much-needed 13-12 walk-off victory on Saturday night at Angel Stadium. It marked the first time a club had come back from six runs in the seventh and three more runs in the ninth in a victory since the Phillies did it against the Pirates on Sept. 16, 1930.

“To say it was needed was an understatement,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “If there's anybody who ever says this team doesn't care, doesn't fight, doesn't play hard, I'll fight anyone to say that. They do. They prepare to win and play to win every day. It’s been a tough stretch, but we’re not out of it by any means.”

It helped the Angels finally put an end to their six-game losing streak and could give them some much needed momentum, as they’ve lost 10 of 12. Taylor Ward hit into what looked like was going to be an inning-ending double play but shortstop Grae Kessinger's throw to first was wild and allowed the winning run to score.

“It gives us a lot of momentum going forward,” Moustakas said. “It was a total team effort. A lot happened throughout that entire game and we found a way to come back and find a win. I think it proves that we can do that. It was a lot of fun.”

The Angels appeared headed toward yet another loss after reliever Chris Devenski gave up five runs in the seventh inning against his former team, putting them down by six. But the Angels chipped away in the seventh, as Zach Neto hit a two-run homer off lefty Framber Valdez to chase him from the game. Eduardo Escobar then smacked a two-out RBI single off Ryne Stanek to keep the inning alive.

The Astros turned to Bryan Abreu to face Moustakas, who was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. But Moustakas got an 0-1 slider over the middle of the plate, belting a three-run homer to tie the game and bring some energy to the crowd. It marked the Angels' first six-run comeback win since they overcame an eight-run deficit against the Tigers on Aug. 19, 2021.

Nevin noted that it was fitting that Moustakas came up with the big hit, as he was the one that spoke up during a team meeting on Thursday. Moustakas, who won a World Series with the Royals in 2015 and was acquired in a trade with the Rockies on June 25, just wanted to remind his teammates they are still in it and to play with urgency.

“He got the group together and being new here, it’s not an easy thing to do,” Nevin said. “A moment like that, it was just really cool. He had the three strikeouts going into there. But he got a pitch up. It was a big moment for him. He’s been vocal in that room and he’s been there before and we don’t have a lot of guys who have.”

After Renfroe struck out to end the inning, lefty Matt Moore made his first appearance since suffering a strained oblique on May 23 and gave up the lead just six pitches later in the eighth on a two-run homer from Chas McCormick. The Astros tacked on another run in the ninth against lefty Tucker Davidson and seemed to be on their way to a victory, as Pressly hadn’t allowed a hit since June 15. But the Angels mounted yet another comeback, tying the game in the ninth, and pulled it off in extras, giving them their first win since July 2.

“We’ve got another game tomorrow and we’ll enjoy this for a little bit,” Nevin said. “It’s certainly nice to have one go our way like that. It could go a long way. I don't know. But it certainly feels good right now.”