ANAHEIM -- Heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, it seemed all but over for the Angels on Saturday night.
They were down by 13 runs to the Dodgers. Mike Trout and Justin Upton were both removed from the game in what appeared to be a blowout loss. Even the Dodgers removed Mookie Betts and Justin Turner from the ballgame as the Dodgers appeared to be coasting to a victory.
Then the Angels made things interesting and gave the Halos faithful a reason to not beat the traffic leaving the Big A.
The Halos stormed their way back and turned a 13-run deficit into a 14-11 loss against the Dodgers on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
“It is a loss. It started out in a very bleak manner as you saw, but, man, you gotta love what we look like over the last several innings,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Everybody was still engaged.”
Without Trout or Upton, and third baseman Anthony Rendon shelved on the IL, it was the homegrown talent that gave the Angels life. First baseman Jared Walsh, second baseman Jose Rojas and right fielder Taylor Ward, all former Angels Draft picks, sparked the offense and combined for eight RBIs, turning a dud of a Saturday night into an offensive showcase.
Maddon said the near comeback without the marquee names is a team building moment, one that had key hits from Rojas, Ward and left fielder Jon Jay, who replaced Upton in the game and had an RBI single.
“That's kind of a bonding moment in a sense,” Maddon said. “Say like certain guys who have this opportunity to ascend, we've talked about that and they're taking advantage of it. I want to believe even though we didn't win the game, that kind of a feeling, method, thought process, methodology regarding not quitting has to sustain. I mean they're going to carry that with them, we're going to carry that with us. So I thought it was great, really proud of the boys.”
Rojas gave the Angels the biggest push with a loud three-run homer that he put deep into right field for his first big league homer, which highlighted a seven-run inning. Rojas said the moment was memorable for his family, whom he pointed to in the stands down the first-base line as he rounded second.
“I’m sure it means a lot to them,” the rookie said. “They’re pretty happy and stoked to be here for that.”
With the near comeback, he added that it shows the fight the Angels have.
“It shows what we're capable of doing, controlling what we can one at-bat at a time and going from there,” Rojas said.
The Angels were in a pitchers' duel after starter Dylan Bundy matched Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw through three scoreless innings before things snowballed in the fourth.
The Dodgers jumped on Bundy quickly, leading to an early exit after he gave up four runs in an inning where the Dodgers sent 14 batters to the plate and put up an eight spot as they piled on for a 13-0 lead by the fifth inning.
Despite only lasting 3 1/3 innings, Bundy said seeing the offense explode and make it a close game helps the Angels even in a loss.
“I think you have the momentum that you got the night before,” Bundy said. “You carry that into the field the next day. And us scoring 11 runs when down 13 to nothing, I think that's huge.”