ANAHEIM -- Six years ago, the Nationals drafted a 6-foot-9 right-hander out of the University of Kentucky named Alex Meyer in the first round, before trading him to the Twins 16 months later.Now 27 and with his third organization, Meyer's career has not taken off quite as he had hoped,
ANAHEIM -- Six years ago, the Nationals drafted a 6-foot-9 right-hander out of the University of Kentucky named Alex Meyer in the first round, before trading him to the Twins 16 months later.
Now 27 and with his third organization, Meyer's career has not taken off quite as he had hoped, but on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium, he reminded his former organization of his tantalizing potential. Meyer allowed one hit in seven dominant innings as the Angels shut out the Nationals, 7-0. The win secured a split of the two-game Interleague series for the Halos and handed the Nats their first loss in seven games.
"It was good to be able to come up here and have that, especially against the team that drafted me," said Meyer, who walked one and struck out seven in the 88-pitch gem.
Meyer, who was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday after being demoted two weeks ago, retired the first 14 batters he faced before issuing a four-pitch walk to Anthony Rendon with two outs in the fifth. His no-hit bid stayed alive for one more inning, until Brian Goodwin -- who was also drafted in the first round in 2011 by the Nats -- broke it up with a two-out double down the right-field line in the sixth. Meyer had taken Goodwin out to breakfast earlier Wednesday morning.
"I always thought he had great stuff," Goodwin said. "Even when he was with us, he pitched his tail off, just like he did tonight. I guess he looks a little more crafty now. Definitely able to do more with the ball, be more precise with it. But you knew when we got him there was a reason we got him so early."
• Meyer has career night vs. former club
The Angels' struggling offense came alive to back Meyer's stellar outing, producing its most runs since June 22. Yunel Escobar, C.J. Cron and Cliff Pennington all delivered multihit efforts for the Halos, while Michael Trout broke the game open with his 18th home run of the season, a two-run blast off Joe Blanton that gave the Angels a 7-0 lead in the seventh.
With Bryce Harper receiving a day off on Wednesday, the Nationals mustered only two baserunners against the Angels en route to their second shutout of the season. Left-hander Giovany Gonzalez was charged with the loss after surrendering four runs on five hits while walking three and striking out three over 5 2/3 innings.
"When you get shut out, you don't really have a chance," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "I think that's our second shutout this year. We didn't really have much of a shot tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Angels strike early: The Angels scored twice in the first inning to build an early lead against Gonzalez. Escobar, who moved back into the leadoff spot following Tuesday's injury to Cameron Maybin, opened with a single, advanced to second on Trout's walk and scored on Jose Pujols' RBI single to put the Halos on the board. Andrelton Simmons later knocked in Trout with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Cron tacks on: Cron, who has been limited to starting against left-handers, made the most of his opportunity on Wednesday night, blasting a two-run shot off Gonzalez that extended the Angels' lead to 4-0 in the sixth. Cron's fourth homer of the season, which came close to hitting the million-dollar paint can in left-center field, came off the bat at 110 mph and traveled a Statcast™-estimated 461 feet, making it the longest homer hit by an Angel this season.
"All it took was one pitch that made the difference," Gonzalez said. "And that pitch ended up being a high changeup to the guy that I was two times ahead in the count."
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Meyer spent only one professional season with the Nationals before he was traded to the Twins in exchange for Denard Span in November 2012. Meyer struggled as a starter with Minnesota and was moved to the bullpen in 2015, which caused his prospect stock to dip. Still, Meyer's upside intrigued the Angels, who acquired him from the Twins along with Ricky Nolasco as part of the Hector Santiago trade last summer.
Meyer said it was special to be able to have one of the best starts of his career against the Nationals.
"I have a lot of respect for the organization from when I was there," Meyer said. "My one year there was a blast, and that was Low-A and High-A. I have some of my best friends over there that I still keep in contact with today. It was fun to be able to face them and happy to get a win against them."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Angels right fielder Shane Robinson, who was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday as Maybin landed on the disabled list, made one of the most difficult catches of the season to rob Daniel Murphy of a hit in the first inning. Murphy hooked a 1-2 curveball from Meyer to right field, but Robinson came running in to make a diving grab and end the inning. The fly ball had a catch probability of just 7 percent, according to Statcast™.
"Usually on plays like that, I just try to focus and just kind of slow things down as kind of like a controlled max effort," Robinson said. "You go all out, but you mentally try to slow things down at the same time. I was just fortunate I could make that catch for Alex."
• Statcast™ of the Day: Robinson robs Murphy
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the sixth, Robinson was ruled safe at first after appearing to beat out a double play. The Nationals challenged the call, but the ruling was allowed to stand after replays were inconclusive.
Nationals: Following an off-day Thursday, the Nationals will begin a three-game series with the D-backs Friday night at Chase Field at 9:40 p.m. ET. Max Scherzer will take the mound looking to continue a dominant stretch in which he has notched double-digit strikeouts in nine of his past 10 starts.
Angels: The Angels will enjoy an off-day on Thursday before opening a three-game series against the American League East-leading Red Sox on Friday night at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Ricky Nolasco (4-10, 4.82 ERA) will start the opener in his 20th outing of the season.
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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.