Angels edge Astros in 13 on Featherston's hit
ANAHEIM -- Taylor Featherston extended his hands on an outside-corner Chad Qualls slider and got just enough of it to hit a flare over the head of Astros first baseman Chris Carter, plating Erick Aybar and sending the Angels to a 2-1 win in 13 innings on Wednesday afternoon.
With that, the Angels took two of three from the first-place Astros to cut their American League West deficit to 4 1/2 games.
"I thought he was probably going to come back to [the slider] again and I got just enough of it," Featherston, a rookie infielder, said of his first walk-off and his first hit at Angel Stadium. "Carter's pretty tall, but I don't think he's tall enough to catch that one."
The Astros committed three critical outs on the bases late in the game. Pinch-runner George Springer was picked off first base by Joe Smith and Evan Gattis was thrown out by left fielder Daniel Robertson trying for a double in the ninth, and pinch-runner Marwin Gonzalez was caught stealing in the 10th.
All three calls went against the Astros after replay reviews, and the Angels finally broke through in the bottom of the 13th.
Aybar led off with a single up the middle against lefty Joe Thatcher, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Robertson and went to third on a groundout to the right side by Efren Navarro. Qualls, a right-hander, then walked Chris Iannetta and served up the game-winning bloop single to Featherston.
"That's kind of how it's been going the last couple of weeks, not too many hard-hit balls," Qualls said. "It's got to change sooner or later. I don't know what else to say. A bunch of singles get me right there, and he got enough of that slider off the plate. I didn't even think it got to the outfield. It landed on the dirt. What can you do?"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Big debut: Andrew Heaney shined in his Angels debut, giving up only one run on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts in six innings. The 24-year-old left-hander, acquired from the Dodgers for second baseman Howie Kendrick in December, got into a little trouble in the sixth, but kept the score tied. After Carlos Correa laced an RBI double over the head of left fielder Matt Joyce, Heaney struck out Preston Tucker, then intentionally walked Gattis and recorded his fifth strikeout against Colby Rasmus to end the inning. More >
"It was good," Heaney said of his Angels debut. "I wish I wouldn't have given up the one run and we would've hopefully won that in 8 1/2 innings and not had to burn so much of the bullpen. But I felt good."
McCullers solid again: The 21-year-old Lance McCullers continued his strong rookie season by holding the Angels to one run, which came after he walked Albert Pujols to start the fourth inning. Still, McCullers went six innings for his fourth quality start in eight outings this year and struck out six. He never had a 1-2-3 inning, but allowed more than one baserunner in only one inning -- the fourth. More >
"Guys on base don't mean anything," McCullers said. "It's the ones that cross the plate. Other than having to throw some extra pitches here and there, I'm fine with it."
Shutdown bullpen: The Angels' 'pen absorbed 5 2/3 innings after a rough start by C.J. Wilson on Tuesday night, then came back to shut the Astros out in seven frames on Wednesday afternoon. Five relievers -- Trevor Gott, Joe Smith, Huston Street, Fernando Salas and Jose Alvarez -- combined to scatter just three hits and two walks. Smith, Street and Alvarez all pitched multiple innings and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Salas showed "the best stuff he's had all year."
"The whole crew, the whole bullpen, it worked," Scioscia said. "They all made pitches."
"For that game to end with a seeing eye base hit that looped over the infield is a punch in the gut," -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch, on a marathon game not going the Astros' way
"Out of all the guys you want to experience a walk-off win, Taylor is at the top of the list." -- Scioscia, on seeing Featherston come through
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Correa joins Rusty Staub (1963) as the only players in Astros team history to reach base safely in 15 of his first career 16 games.
Wednesday's four-hour and 31-minute game was the Angels' longest this season -- in innings and time -- and it marked their fifth walk-off win. They're 22-0 when allowing two runs or less.
The Astros had three replay reviews go against them in the ninth and 10th innings. Hinch asked the umpires to review the play when pinch-runner Springer was picked off in the ninth. Springer ran for Tucker, who led off the inning with a single.
Gattis followed with a ball into the left-field corner and was called out sliding into second, trying for a double. That call stood on a crew-chief review.
Then in the 10th, Luis Valbuena led off with a walk and was lifted for pinch-runner Gonzalez, who was thrown out trying to steal with one out. That call also was confirmed by a crew-chief review.
"They're aggressive mistakes," Hinch said. "It's unfortunate because you don't know how the inning plays out if we don't have those, but they're outs. We've got to move on. We had other opportunities."
Astros: The Astros send ace Dallas Keuchel to the mound to open a seven-game homestand at 7:10 p.m. CT Thursday against the Yankees at Minute Maid Park. Keuchel (8-3, 2.35 ERA) has 11 quality starts in 15 outings, though he allowed a season-high five runs and four walks in his previous start Saturday in Seattle.
Angels: The Angels are off Thursday, then host a weekend series against the division-rival Mariners starting Friday at 7:05 p.m. PT. Matt Shoemaker (4-5, 5.20 ERA) gets the start opposite fellow right-hander Taijuan Walker. Shoemaker was initially slated to start Wednesday, but he was pushed back an extra couple of days -- in favor of Heaney -- to iron out his mechanics.
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