Conger secures win in 11th with painful RBI
Skaggs impressive in hometown debut; Trout, Shuck belt homers
ANAHEIM -- It took a 98 mph heater in the ribs, but Hank Conger didn't mind a little pain for the gain. It got the job done Friday night for his Angels.
"He hit me good -- but I don't even feel it now," Conger said of the final pitch of a long night by Mets right-hander Jeurys Familia, a walk-off hit batsman forcing home veteran Raul Ibanez with the winning run in a 5-4 Interleague decision taken by the Angels in 11 innings.
Young Tyler Skaggs kept them in the game with his two-seam fastball, control and poise, and the Angels found power in the absence of Josh Hamilton from a likely source (Mike Trout) and an unlikely one (J.B. Shuck) before it all came down to Conger vs. Familia with the bases loaded and one out.
"My approach was to take it up the middle, get a ball in the air," Conger said. "Towards the end of that at-bat, his sinker was starting to work. He threw me a nasty one 2-1. Then he threw a fastball that was coming towards me, and I said, 'Get in there ... take one.'"
He didn't figure in the decision, but Skaggs, the pride of Santa Monica High School, settled in and made an impressive home debut in front of 42,871 Angel Stadium fans.
Slamming the door on the Mets after a two-run fourth inning had given them a 4-2 lead, Skaggs made it through seven innings and kept his team in the game with control (no walks), efficiency (89 pitches) and variety. His repertoire included a two-seamer that helped induce 14 groundouts to go with his four strikeouts.
"Definitely a dream come true, what you dream about as a kid, playing for the Angels," said Skaggs, who had at least 30 family members and friends in the stands. "It was amazing.
"I threw the two-seamer probably 80, 85 percent of the time. Throwing first-pitch strikes is huge. It dictates the at-bat for me."
Through two starts with his hometown team, Skaggs has walked only one hitter while striking out nine in 17 innings, his ERA an excellent 2.40.
"That's a great game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of the 22-year-old lefty, acquired from the D-backs in the Mark Trumbo swap. "Look at four runs in seven innings -- he pitched much better than that."
Mets right-hander Dillon Gee was protecting a two-run lead in the sixth when, with one out, he walked Howie Kendrick, who'd doubled and singled earlier.
Recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake with the loss of Hamilton for at least six weeks after surgery Friday on his left thumb, Shuck turned on a Gee fastball and lifted it inside the right-field pole to bring the Angels even at 4.
"J.B. had a terrific spring and was one of the toughest cuts we've had around here Opening Day," Scioscia said. "He had a great attitude about it."
The homer was the third of Shuck's Major League career in 521 at-bats. Gee departed after a two-out single by Erick Aybar, turning it over to Carlos Torres. The right-hander struck out the dangerous Trout to leave two runners stranded.
Trout's third homer of the season, a rocket to left center, got the Angels even in the bottom of the first after singles by Eric Young and Daniel Murphy and David Wright's double-play grounder produced a run against Skaggs.
"I made a pitch I was actually trying to make," Gee said of Trout's homer. "He's one of the best for a reason. You've got to tip your hat."
Trout didn't feel right at the plate in recent games and did some swing maintenance before the game.
"I made a tweak in my approach, with the position of my front leg, and I could feel the difference," said Trout, who had been in a mini-funk with the bat. "I was swinging at inside pitches that I thought were strikes but weren't strikes. I got myself straight."
Kendrick's double and Chris Iannetta's two-out single handed Skaggs a lead in the second. But catcher Travis d'Arnaud -- a product of nearby Long Beach -- smoked a first-pitch homer to get the Mets even in the third. It was his first homer of the season and second of his Major League career.
Skaggs gave up a pair of fourth-inning runs on three consecutive hits, Josh Satin's two-run double coming after a single by DH Andrew Brown and an opposite-field, ground-ball double by Curtis Granderson against a shift.
Showing his poise, Skaggs left Satin at third by retiring Juan Lagares and d'Arnaud.
"You've got to keep battling, keep your composure and throw strikes," Skaggs said. "Fortunately, the team picked me up and I was off the hook."
Skaggs didn't let Wright move past second after his leadoff double in the sixth, retiring Brown and Granderson and catching Satin looking at a third strike to end the threat.
The Angels had chances to win it with the bases loaded in the eighth and two on in the 10th, but Albert Pujols grounded out each time to end the threats.
The win -- giving the Angels a 7-6 series edge against the Mets -- went to Michael Kohn, the fourth reliever on a night the Angels' bullpen was first-rate. Joe Smith, Ernesto Frieri, Fernando Salas and Kohn combined to hold the Mets to one baserunner over the final four innings.