Catcher singles in run in seventh to spark scoring for Halos
By Andrew Simon
BALTIMORE -- In the fifth inning on Saturday night, Angels catcher Chris Iannetta smacked a line drive to right field that found its way into the glove of the Orioles' Alejandro De Aza.
The out made Iannetta 0-for-2 on the night, and by the time he came to the plate again in the seventh, the batting average up on the scoreboard started with a zero -- .099. It seemed like it was going to be another long night in a season full of them for Iannetta, whose continual struggles at the plate recently had cost him his starting spot.
"You feel like it's never going to happen, that you're never going to turn the page," Iannetta said.
Then, finally, Iannetta caught a break.
With two runners on base and two outs and the Angels trailing, 1-0, Iannetta hit a bouncer to the left side off Baltimore's Ubaldo Jimenez. Third baseman Manny Machado ranged to his left and reached for the ball, but it hit the tip of his glove and deflected away from shortstop J.J. Hardy into left field. Erick Aybar scored the tying run, and when Marc Krauss followed with his own RBI single, the Angels had a lead they would not relinquish on their way to a 6-1 win.
"You take a hit any way you can," Iannetta said. "You hit a lot of balls hard that have been right at people, so we'll take whatever we can get."
Iannetta added a single to right field in the ninth, giving him his second multihit game of the season and first since April 14. That lifted his average to .123, its highest point since April 17.
Iannetta, a 10-year-veteran, was a consistent offensive performer for the Angels from 2012-14, finishing with an OPS between .730 and .765 each year. But in response to his year-long slump, the Angels have turned more to rookie Carlos Perez, who had started seven of the previous nine games.
Rather than pout, Iannetta said, he ran stadium steps and sprints, did agility drills and plyometric exercises, lifted weights and worked on hitting, anything to keep his mind off his performance and his role.
"It really wasn't mechanical," he said of his struggles. "It was just timing, and I wasn't seeing the ball, for whatever reason. It was a bad stretch."
After three straight starts by Perez, Iannetta got the call again on Saturday, with manager Mike Scioscia saying the Angels are, "going to need them both."
Perhaps the time off helped, but either way, Iannetta came through.
"If that's what it took, great," he said. "I just want to be done with it."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.