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Briceno ends marathon with walk-off HR in 11th

Pena throws seven solid to help Halos halt five-game skid
September 24, 2018

ANAHEIM -- Jose Briceno tried to brace himself as best he could, but he wasn't prepared for the rollicking celebration that awaited him at home plate after he blasted a pinch-hit, walk-off home run in the 11th inning to lift the Angels to a 5-4 win over the Rangers in

ANAHEIM -- Jose Briceno tried to brace himself as best he could, but he wasn't prepared for the rollicking celebration that awaited him at home plate after he blasted a pinch-hit, walk-off home run in the 11th inning to lift the Angels to a 5-4 win over the Rangers in Monday night's series opener at Angel Stadium.
By the time he emerged from the scrum, he was coated in baby powder and had his jersey ripped off his chest by Kaleb Cowart. Not that he minded.
"That was awesome," Briceno said. "I don't know what's going on around me. I just tried to close my eyes."
Briceno entered Monday with only five pinch-hit appearances in the Majors, but he delivered after subbing for catcher Francisco Arcia with the game tied at 4 in the 11th inning. After falling behind, 0-2, against Rangers left-hander Matt Moore, Briceno drove a fastball over the left-center-field wall for his fifth home run of the season. It was the Angels' first pinch-hit, walk-off home run since Scott Spiezio in 2000 and only the fifth in franchise history.
"As a pinch-hitter, you have to be aggressive, so I was just hoping for a fastball," Briceno said. "That's why I swung really hard."

Briceno's heroics helped bail out fellow rookie Ty Buttrey, who allowed a one-run lead to slip away in the ninth after Ronald Guzman doubled off the center-field wall to set up Elvis Andrus' two-out, pinch-hit RBI single to left field.
Shohei Ohtani, Jefry Marte and Michael Hermosillo also homered, while right-hander Felix Pena worked seven strong innings to rebound from a rough outing at Oakland last week, helping the Angels snap a five-game losing streak and open their final homestand on a high note.
"We battled," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those guys battled on the other side, too, and tied it up in the ninth with two outs. But we did a lot of good things. We had a lot of young guys on the field tonight. I think they all held up well. We drove the ball out of the park, which was nice. It's a good win."
Ohtani broke out of his mini-slump and continued to make his case for the American League Rookie of the Year award, crushing a 428-foot solo shot to put the Angels on the board in the first inning.

Ohtani, who entered Monday in a 3-for-22 rut, launched a first-pitch sinker from Texas right-hander Adrian Sampson to right field for his 21st home run of the season. The blast had an exit velocity of 112.9 mph, making it the hardest-hit home run of his career, according to Statcast™.

"I got all of the barrel," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I felt pretty good about how far it went."
Guzman homered off Pena to tie the game in the second, but the Angels countered with a pair of solo shots from Marte and Hermosillo to take a 3-1 lead in the fourth. It was the first career home run for Hermosillo, who started in left field in place of Justin Upton.

"I've been waiting for it," Hermosillo said. "I've been waiting to just get an RBI or just get on the board in some way. So it was great to help the team win, for sure."
But the Rangers used another home run to erase the deficit in the sixth. After allowing a single to Rougned Odor, Pena hung an 0-1 slider to Jurickson Profar, who hit it out to right field for a game-tying homer. Pena immediately dropped to his knees, lamenting the errant pitch.
"I missed with the pitch," Pena said in Spanish. "Every time you miss, you have to pay the price."
Still, the Angels' offense picked up Pena in the bottom of the sixth, as Marte scored on a wild pitch from Rangers reliever Connor Sadzeck to give the club a 4-3 lead.

Pena returned to the mound in the seventh and posted a scoreless inning to cap his efficient, 89-pitch effort. He departed after allowing three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out six, an impressive turnaround from his rocky performance against the A's on Wednesday, when he gave up six runs over four innings.
"I kept doing what I had been doing, working hard and making my pitches," Pena said. "Those things happen. My last start, things didn't work out how I wanted, but I stayed focused and maintained my routine. It worked out well, thank God."

Pena has now pitched at least six innings in seven of his last eight starts and has posted 3.60 ERA over his last 10 outings. A converted reliever, Pena said he believes he's shown enough to prove that he can be a long-term starter for the Angels.
"I feel strong, and I feel really positive," Pena said. "I enjoy it a lot more than being in the bullpen. I'm not thinking about returning to the bullpen anymore. Hopefully, that'll be the case. I'm going to keep working hard to always give my best."
Michael Trout drew his 117th walk of the season in the 10th, breaking the single-season club record (116) that he set in 2016.
The Angels challenged that pinch-runner Delino DeShields missed third base while scoring from second on Andrus' single in the ninth, but the call was upheld following a replay review.

Right-hander Matthew Shoemaker (2-2, 5.48 ERA) will take the mound for the Angels on Tuesday as they continue their three-game series against the Rangers at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Shoemaker pitched five scoreless innings in his last start against Texas on Sept. 3. The Rangers will counter with right-hander Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 6.59 ERA).

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.