Homers, Skaggs' gem power Angels to win
Lefty gives up just four hits in eight-plus in win over Blue Jays
TORONTO -- The Angels aren't short on superstar talent. But on Saturday, they didn't need it.
Tyler Skaggs worked into the ninth inning, while rookie C.J. Cron hit his first career homer to power the Angels to a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
"[Skaggs] pitched one heck of a game for us," said acting manager Dino Ebel. "Can't say enough. He wanted this game, went out there and made pitches. The curveball was down, he mixed his pitches well, in and out, up and down. You have to tip your hat to Tyler."
After allowing an unearned run in the first inning, Skaggs had his way with the Jays. The left-hander bounced back from his worst performance of the season -- in which he lasted just 2 2/3 innings -- to dominate Toronto, throwing a career-high-tying eight-plus innings in front of a crowd of 31,412. Skaggs became the first Halos pitcher to win three games in a season as a 22-year-old since Brian Anderson in 1994.
The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI double from Edwin Encarnacion, which brought in Jose Bautista, who had reached base on a Skaggs error. But Skaggs immediately shook it off and went into shutdown mode after that, retiring the next 21 Jays before Steve Tolleson hit a two-out double in the eighth.
Skaggs was so locked in, he didn't even realize the streak he had compiled, which began with the last out of the first inning.
"I honestly didn't even think about it," said Skaggs, who completed seven-plus innings for the fifth time in seven starts. "Somebody asked me about it and I had no clue. I actually thought I walked somebody. Kind of just zoned out there. Kind of just locked in and tried to take it pitch by pitch."
Skaggs carved up Toronto's batters every which way possible, inducing groundouts, popups and strikeouts. He ended the fifth by punching out both Juan Francisco and Tolleson looking. Skaggs was forced to turn to a number of weapons to win the 10-pitch battle with Tolleson, and the young lefty dropped in a 3-2 curveball to ring him up.
The curveball, changeup and specifically the two-seamer, Skaggs said, were all working for him.
For catcher Chris Iannetta, who hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Angels a 3-1 lead, it has been fun watching Skaggs develop.
"Tyler is really coming into his own, you can really see the maturation process," said Iannetta, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. "He just keeps getting better and hopefully he just keeps learning how to pitch and learning how to execute."
Skaggs went out for the ninth inning looking for his first career complete game, but he came up short and was lifted for reliever Joe Smith after surrendering back-to-back hits to begin the frame. That's when the Blue Jays' offense finally showed a pulse.
Smith, who earned his fourth save of the season, allowed the pair of inherited runners to score, but he got out of the jam by getting pinch-hitter Adam Lind to hit into a game-ending double play with the potential tying runs on base.
Skaggs allowed three runs -- two earned -- on four hits, issued no walks for the second time this season and struck out four.
The battle of southpaws between Skaggs and Toronto starter J.A. Happ proved to be no battle at all. Los Angeles chased Happ from the contest after 2 1/3 innings, pounding him for four runs on seven hits.
"I felt good in the bullpen, I felt good before the game," said Happ, who turned in his shortest non-injury-related start since June 20, 2011. "It's just a matter of not executing. I expect to be better than that, that's for sure."
Happ allowed three runs in the second to quickly relinquish the 1-0 lead he was provided with in the first. Cron brought in one on an RBI single, and Iannetta followed by hammering a two-run homer, his third of the season, to put the Halos up, 3-1.
The next inning, Cron's big blast into the second deck in left-center field gave Los Angeles a 4-1 lead.
Cron, who hit for power throughout his time in the Minors, connected for his first big league homer in his 22nd career at-bat.
"It's awesome," Ebel said. "When he hit it, I got the chills because he crushed it pretty good. Getting the ball, he was pretty excited. The guys in the dugout were giving him good beef about it."
Los Angeles tacked on one more in the sixth after Collin Cowgill scored on a throwing error from Jose Reyes. The Blue Jays shortstop threw the ball away trying to get Erick Aybar at first, allowing Cowgill to scurry home and put the Angels ahead, 5-1.
Cron, Cowgill, Iannetta and Aybar all recorded two-hit games to help the Halos win their fifth consecutive game against Toronto, something they haven't done since Sept. 7, 1983-July 2, 1984.
The Angels can secure a series victory and match their longest winning streak of the season at three games with a win over the Jays on Sunday.