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Game Recap: McCullers Couldn’t. Halos Capture Final Game From Stros 14-5

Pitching breakdown allows Angels to salvage last game of the three game series.

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout after his home run contribution to the Angels’ 14 run explosion against Astros pitching.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

McCullers couldn’t. Lance McCullers, the Jr. The 24 year old hard throwing former All Star pitcher for the Houston Astros. Couldn’t stop the the Los Angeles Angels from scoring a boatload of runs, that is.

But to be fair, neither could Will Harris, Chris Devenski, Cionel Perez, Brad Peacock, or J. D. (Babe) Davis. When Davis, the occasional Astro third baseman, pitches, you know it’s over. I mean, hitting a home run against J.D. Davis is like the New England Patriots kicking a field goal against the Cleveland Browns with 20 seconds left in the game leading 51-0. C’mon Angels, you’re better than that.

Seriously, McCullers’ main problem today was control. Too many pitches thrown outside the zone, and too many curves floating right into the sweet spots of Angels’ awaiting bats.

He got through 4.1 innings today, facing 22 batters total. Eleven of those 22 got on base, 6 from base hits, 5 from walks. He allowed five earned runs and only got three K’s. Out of 92 pitches only 55 were strikes. He induced 11 whiffs in those 92 pitches, a very low rate for twirl ball specialist McCullers. He also allowed a 443 foot home run to Justin Upton in the third inning.

It is the second game in a row in which McCullers has suffered a meltdown. In his previous start against Oakland he allowed 6 runs in only 4 innings.

But that’s not as bad as the bullpen did in the seventh inning of this game, with a little sabotage from the defense, all with two outs. Will Harris got Justin Upton to strike out for the first out of the inning. Shohei Ohtani then hit a high grounder to third baseman Davis, whose high throw took first baseman Yuli Gurriel off the bag. The scorer called it a hit, not the first mysterious ruling by the official scorers during this series.

The Angels took full advantage. They proceeded to load the bases. After a would be third out on a fly ball, they then scored seven runs, the first two on an RBI single by David Fletcher, which knocked Will Harris out of the game. The rest came off Chris Devenski, who allowed a three run homer to Cole Calhoun, and a two run homer to Mike Trout, who you knew would have to break out of his slump eventually.

Chris Devenski faced four batters, gave up a single, a walk, and two home runs.

The Angels managed one more run in the eighth on a solo home run by Ian Kinsler against J. D. Davis, the first run he has allowed in his pitching career. OK, he’s only pitched about two innings previously.

The Astros scored on a second inning RBI single by Davis, a two run double by Alex Bregman in the seventh, his only hit of the series, and an eighth inning bases loaded walk by George Springer.

The Astros seem to have trouble getting all their cylinders to hit at the same time. Before the All Star break George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez were in abysmal slumps, but in this series Springer went 4-10 with a grand slam thrown in, and Marwin Gonzalez was 4-9. Meanwhile red hot Alex Bregman managed only 1 hit in 12 AB’s and Jose Altuve 2 hits in 11. Jose has been in a bit of a mini-slump. Before today, since July 8 his BA is .237 with a wRC+ of only 58.

Oh well. A terrible ending to an otherwise successful series in Los Angeles. They finish the day five games ahead of Seattle and eight games ahead of Oakland in the AL West. They are in a virtual tie for second place in the overall AL standings, five games behind Boston.

Tomorrow the Astros are off. They resume play Tuesday at Colorado.

Box score and videos here.