Calhoun busts out, defense shines for Angels

Calhoun busts out, defense shines for Angels

Calhoun busts out, defense shines for Angels

ANAHEIM -- The Angels turned in what was arguably their best defensive game of the season, and the offense provided some late-inning heroics to complete a 7-5 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Angel Stadium.

Trailing in the eighth, 5-4, the Angels rallied for three runs.

Chris Nelson led off the inning with a double, J.B. Shuck tied the game with a triple and Kole Calhoun, who recorded his first four-hit game, capped off the inning with his first career home run.

"That was the best feeling of my life," Calhoun said. "I was just trying to put the ball in play. Hitting in front of [Mike] Trout is the best spot in the world to hit. I knew I was going to get some pitches to hit, especially early, and got one up and just swung."

This all came after the Angels surrendered a lead for the sixth time in the past eight games.

Entering the sixth inning, the Angels held a 4-2 lead, but the Blue Jays struck for three runs, chasing starter Tommy Hanson from the game.

Hanson, who lasted 5 1/3 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits, gave up a single to Emilio Bonifacio to begin the sixth. Jose Reyes followed with a two-run home run to tie the game, and the Blue Jays took the lead on Colby Rasmus' RBI groundout.

Calhoun's blast to right field decided the game, but it was the Angels' defense that kept them in it early.

"Defensive plays are very uplifting, especially when the crowd gets into it," Chris Iannetta said.

Although the Angels have committed the second-most errors in the Majors (79), manager Mike Scioscia has continued to state that his team is better than the numbers indicate.

On Friday, they showed it.

Shuck cemented his place in the Angels' season highlight reel when he robbed a home run in the fourth. Jose Bautista lofted a long fly ball into the left-field corner and Shuck, who had time to settle under the ball and time his jump, made the leaping catch while falling into the first row of the stands.

"He hit it pretty high so I had time to get back to the wall," Shuck said. "It started coming down, I knew I would have a chance at it and just jumped and tried to go get it. I don't really know what happened after that."

What happened was one of the best catches of the year, and it drew a ton of praise and reactions from everyone in the Angels' clubhouse.

"I don't know if you're going to see a better play than that," Scioscia said. "That was incredible."

While Shuck stood out with his glove, Iannetta did so with his arm.

Opponents began the game having stolen 15 bases in 16 attempts with Hanson on the mound, and Iannetta had yet to throw out multiple baserunners in a game this season. But on Friday, he threw out three would-be base stealers, marking the first time the Angels caught three runners stealing in a game in the last 10 seasons.

"Chris had a good game behind the plate," Scioscia said. "Those caught stealings were important, they minimized some innings."

In Thursday's 8-2 victory, the Angels knocked Blue Jays starter Josh Johnson out of the game after just 2 1/3 innings, and in Friday's contest, they made sure Todd Redmond did not last much longer.

Redmond, making just his sixth Major League start, allowed three runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. Despite a pair of strikeouts to begin the inning, the Angels batted around and struck for three runs in the fourth.

Erick Aybar was hit by a pitch and promptly stole second to begin the rally. Then, Chris Nelson drove him in with a single, Shuck got a hit of his own, Iannetta drove in two with a double, Calhoun singled and Trout was intentionally walked.

"Two outs, hit a batter, steals second and all hell breaks loose," Redmond said. "Of course [Aaron] Loup comes in and did a great job, [Neil] Wagner, then we're sitting in the eighth inning, it's not a big lead, but it's a one-run lead and we feel good about that. And they lowered the boom."

The Angels extended their lead to 4-2 in the fifth when Howie Kendrick singled and scored on Nelson's second RBI single.

Ernesto Frieri worked around a one-out double in the ninth and recorded three strikeouts to secure his 29th save of the season.

William Boor is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.