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Simmons' slam, spectacular play sink Jays

MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Andrelton Simmons hit his second career grand slam Saturday, vaulting the Angels past the Blue Jays for a 5-4 win in the second game of a four-game series at Angel Stadium.

Simmons' homer snapped an early 1-1 tie and backed a strong performance by the Angels' defense and starterTyler Skaggs, who, after tossing seven scoreless frames against the Royals his last time out, was again effective. He held the Jays to two runs and seven hits through seven-plus innings, becoming the first Angels starter to pitch into the eighth inning this season. More >

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ANAHEIM -- Andrelton Simmons hit his second career grand slam Saturday, vaulting the Angels past the Blue Jays for a 5-4 win in the second game of a four-game series at Angel Stadium.

Simmons' homer snapped an early 1-1 tie and backed a strong performance by the Angels' defense and starterTyler Skaggs, who, after tossing seven scoreless frames against the Royals his last time out, was again effective. He held the Jays to two runs and seven hits through seven-plus innings, becoming the first Angels starter to pitch into the eighth inning this season. More >

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"He put it all together tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was a strong seven innings and we needed it for sure."

Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

Behind Skaggs and the bullpen, the Angels turned four double plays -- including one that began with a diving stop by Simmons and extinguished a ninth-inning rally -- effectively stalling much of Toronto's momentum. Right fielder Kole Calhoun also contributed a defensive highlight, robbing Jose Bautista in the eighth inning with a leaping grab, which had a 69 percent catch probability, making it a three-star catch, according to Statcast™. Calhoun ran an effective route, coving 86 feet in five seconds.

Video: Must C Catch: Calhoun dives to make amazing grab

"That's what this team is build around," Calhoun said. "Every once in a while you get some spectacular plays, but it's making the consistent ones that are what makes us a good defense. We've got a lot of guys in here that make the routine play, and that's big."

Video: TOR@LAA: Simmons dives and flips to second, starts DP

The Blue Jays got after Skaggs early, getting on the board in the game's first frame as Darwin Barney drew a walk and Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak hit back-to-back two-out singles. That lead was quickly erased, however, when C.J. Cron drove in Mike Trout, who reached on a fielding error, for an unearned run.

Video: TOR@LAA: Cron's RBI single knots the game at 1

For the Blue Jays, Kevin Pillar hit a two-run homer in the eighth and Smoak homered in the ninth and drove in two runs. The homers encouraged Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who noted his club is built for the three-run homer.

Video: TOR@LAA: Pillar belts a two-run home run

"We still need to be that, if we can do anything, that's for sure," Gibbons said. "That's the way we're built. We don't have a lot of team speed at all, so we need to get that going. It's encouraging. Pillar hit that one. Just too much to overcome with the grand slam."

Casey Lawrence worked 6 1/3 innings in his first career MLB start, giving the bullpen a much-needed breather after six relievers appeared in a 13-inning win in the series opener.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Simmons' slam: After a first-inning exchange of scoring that resulted in a 1-1 draw, the Angels jumped ahead in the third inning on Simmons' grand slam. The shortstop took Lawrence deep on a 91.9 mph first-pitch fastball, launching his third home run of the season a Statcast™-projected 400 feet just beyond the wall in left-center.

With a 96.6-mph exit velocity and a 32-degree launch angle, Simmons' homer found just the right spot at Angel Stadium. It had a 32-percent hit probability, per Statcast™, and balls with that combination of exit velocity and launch angle only go for home runs 20 percent of the time -- a fact illustrated by the crowd reaction as the Angels faithful hesitantly rose to their feet before erupting as the ball sailed over Toronto left fielder Steve Pearce's head.

Video: TOR@LAA: Simmons recaps big day, gets doused

"We got ourselves in a position, Andrelton got the big hit and we held on," Scioscia said. "But we have to keep beating that drum, and hopefully we'll reignite some momentum tomorrow and get us going in a positive direction."

Thrown into the fire: Leonel Campos made his Blue Jays debut in a tough spot, inheriting a bases-loaded jam with one out in the seventh. Campos was able to prevent the Angels from increasing their four-run lead, thanks to a little help from his defense. C.J. Cron grounded sharply to short, with shortstop Ryan Goins ranging to his right and making a no-look flip to second baseman Devon Travis to start an inning-ending double play. More >

"I just dove, backhanded, kind of just flipped it without looking and luckily it was good and Devon turned a great double play right there," Goins said.

Video: TOR@LAA: Goins' backhanded stop starts double play

QUOTABLE
"We're in games, we're being competitive, it's just a matter of a hit here and a hit there. We'll turn this thing around." -- Goins on the Jays' 4-13 start to the season

"I guess something to take out of it was working deeper into the game and giving the bullpen a little bit of a rest. That was my focus after giving up the home run. I guess I was able to do that." -- Lawrence, who struck out four

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Bud Norris recorded his first save in the Majors and his first as a professional since Aug. 21, 2006 with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the NY-Penn League.

Video: TOR@LAA: Norris strikes out Saltalamacchia swinging

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman makes his fourth start of the season on Sunday in the third of a four-game series against the Angels at Angel Stadium. Stroman is looking to bounce back from a rough outing in his last start. First pitch is scheduled for 12:37 p.m. PT.

Angels: The Angels' scheduled Sunday starter, Jesse Chavez, pitched in relief in Friday's 13-inning loss, so right-hander Daniel Wright was called up to start the 12:37 p.m. PT game. Wright last pitched in the Minors on Tuesday, so he's lined up on regular rest.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Angels on Saturday.

Casey Lawrence, Andrelton Simmons, Tyler Skaggs