It’s been a month, but one decision the made could not possibly have produced better results.
At August’s start, the Angels told their struggling starting pitcher he had to move to the bullpen. The veteran right-hander owned a 5.43 earned-run average, and the team hadn’t won one of his starts since the summer solstice.
After a game-saving, four-inning stint in the Angels’ 8-2 victory over Oakland on Tuesday at Angel Stadium, Chavez will finish the month with a 0.60 ERA in seven relief appearances. In 15 innings, he has struck out 20 men and walked just two.
Angels manager said Chavez would remain in the bullpen. He attributed the success to Chavez’s improved breaking ball and wasn’t sure why it coincided just right with the change.
“What came first, the chicken or egg?” Scioscia asked. “I don’t know.”
Chavez’s presence in the bullpen allowed Scioscia to pull rookie starter Troy Scribner in a precarious third-inning situation Tuesday, the bases loaded and two outs for the left-handed . Scribner never found a steady release point in his abbreviated start.
“He was just giving away a lot of counts,” Scioscia said.
Quickly, Scioscia brought in his lone left-hander, , who retired Joyce. When Alvarez encountered trouble in the fourth, Scioscia called in Chavez, and he rode him until there were two outs in the eighth. Chavez improved to 7-10.
The Angels jumped ahead before they made an out, as Cameron Maybin doubled and Ben Revere singled against Athletics right-hander Chris Smith, a 36-year-old who made his first major league start this year. Albert Pujols walked to keep the rally alive. After Kole Calhoun grounded out, Andrelton Simmons hit a sacrifice fly. Luis Valbuena walked and C.J. slammed a three-run home run to left-center.
Like that, the Angels had a five-run lead, as many runs as they’ve scored in the first inning all season. They scored twice more in the fourth, on a massive Martin Maldonado solo shot and a subsequent rally, and once in the eighth because of Cron’s second home run.
Oakland had a reliever warming in the first inning, but Smith did not depart until there were two outs in the fourth. Similarly, the game’s pace dragged early, then finished in an orderly fashion, in fact faster than the Angels’ average this season.
In thrashing the lowly Athletics, the Angels kept pace with Minnesota, the team they’re chasing for the second wild-card slot. The are one game ahead.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout missed a second start because of a stiff neck, but expressed hope he will be fit to start Wednesday’s series finale against Oakland. “I definitely feel better than yesterday,” Trout said Tuesday.
Earlier Tuesday, Trout announced he donated $27,000 to the to aid relief efforts in areas of Texas and Louisiana rampaged by Tropical Storm Harvey. He wears No. 27. He said his thrice-yearly visits to Houston keep the region in his thoughts.
“I see the city, how beautiful it is,” he said. “Just seeing pictures, seeing how devastating it is, how the floods are just overtaking everything, it’s the least I can do. Obviously I can’t go down there and help them, but I just thought every little thing would help.”
Trout, 26, is a weather enthusiast. Whenever the Angels are on the road, he excitedly checks a number of websites to learn about the day’s possibilities. In this case, he said, the weather was hard to stomach.
“You can’t mess with Mother Nature,” Trout said. “You’ve gotta take it seriously. Hurricanes are crazy and dangerous things. When they tell you to evacuate, you should evacuate.”
Injured Angels reliever Huston Street also announced Tuesday that he donated $30,000 to relief efforts. By publicizing the charitable effort, he hoped to raise $250,000.
The Angels recalled outfielder from triple-A Salt Lake and placed right-hander on the 10-day disabled list with what Scioscia described as a recurrence of the right knee soreness that has nagged him this season. The team announced the move only one hour before game time, much later than normal. Norris declined to comment on the injury. …The Angels’ 2015 and 2016 first-round draft picks, catcher Taylor Ward and first baseman Matt Thaiss, are among six players from their organization who will take part in this year’s Arizona Fall League. The Angels will send one more pitcher for the abbreviated season that begins Oct. 10.
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