In Major League history, only Schilling and Maddux went longer
By Fabian Ardaya
ANAHEIM -- On Saturday night, Matt Shoemaker found his name in the midst of a group few could have predicted just a month ago.
The Angels right-hander extended his franchise record to 49 strikeouts since his last walk before issuing a free pass to Indians designated hitter Carlos Santana in the seventh inning. The only players in Major League history with longer such streaks are Curt Schilling (56) and Greg Maddux (53). Shoemaker's streak tied that of Pedro Martinez.
Shoemaker was dominant yet again, shutting out the Indians for eight innings as the Angels won, 4-3, to snap a five-game losing streak.
"You can't pitch a better ballgame than Matt pitched," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He just made pitches all night."
Shoemaker's streak lasted 155 batters, as he went 26 days between walks.
"I don't even remember the last time I walked a guy," he said. "I knew I had something like that going on because everyone kept talking about it."
He gave up three hits all night, punching out 11 before exiting with a 3-0 lead. It was the eighth time in his career he recorded double-digit strikeouts, and the third time he has done so against Cleveland.
Shoemaker's ERA -- which sat at 9.12 when he was demoted to Triple-A at the end of April -- now sits at 4.76. Over his last five starts, that ERA has been 1.88, with a 48-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio to boot.
He's attacked the zone, been balanced with all of his pitches and turned two pitches that got him rocked early in the season -- his fastball and his splitter -- into bona-fide strikeout pitches.
"He's used fastballs in two-strike counts. He's used splitters in two-strike counts. He's used sliders in two-strike counts," Scioscia said. "I think all his stuff is playing off each other much better now, and I think the balance is there."
Shoemaker also took advantage of a hyper-aggressive Indians lineup, jumping out ahead in counts and working just one three-ball count through the first six innings. During that at-bat, he worked a 3-1 count to Santana and got him to strike out swinging on back-to-back two-seam fastballs.
"He pitched a great game," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "I think we maybe made him look better. I think we had some bad at-bats."
Shoemaker's performance came at a much-needed time. Entering Saturday's game, the Angels' 5.80 ERA in June ranked 28th in the Majors, and they had to use eight pitchers the night before after Hector Santiago lasted on 1 1/3 innings. The pitching staff's woes struck again in the ninth on Saturday, as Cleveland rallied for three runs to hand closer Huston Street his first blown save of the season.
"The main thing I feel bad for is Matt Shoemaker, because he's the one that deserved the win," Street said.
The win went to Fernando Salas (3-2), who threw one pitch in the ninth, getting Yan Gomes on an infield popout to set the stage for Yunel Escobar, who slapped an RBI single to center to secure a 4-3 walk-off win in the bottom of the inning.
While Shoemaker may not have earned the statistical win, he has suddenly found himself in a new role as the Angels' losing-streak killer.
Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.