Rookie Thaiss’ 8th-inning HR Sends Angels Past Mariners, 6-3
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Matt Thaiss hit the first homer of his major league career and rounded the bases into the arms of his overjoyed teammates. After the win was secured an inning later, the rookie gratefully accepted the dual dousing from the dugout drink coolers given to every hero of an Angels victory.
A weekend series that began with a melancholy celebration of a no-hitter ended with something less incredible, yet still quite thrilling, for a promising slugger and these resilient Angels.
Thaiss hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning, and Los Angeles completed a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners with a 6-3 victory on Sunday.
After Kole Calhoun walked and went to third on pinch-hitter Justin Bour's two-out single off Anthony Bass (1-3), Thaiss connected off Seattle's Roenis Elias. The rookie's blast barely cleared the fence in right, but it sent the Angels to their sixth win in nine games since Skaggs' death.
"It's truly something I'll never forget," Thaiss said after his fifth big-league game. "It's been unbelievable, how welcoming this clubhouse is. The teammates that are in there and how they've all come together through this week, everyone just picks each other up, no matter who it is. It's really special to see."
Mike Trout left the game before the third inning due to right calf tightness, but the Angels (48-46) kept rolling two days after their cathartic no-hit victory in their first home game since the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Los Angeles outscored Seattle 28-5 in the series.
"It's a good start after the break," Trout said. "We've just got to keep it going."
Thaiss, the Angels' first-round pick in 2016, followed up his stellar defensive play during the no-hitter at third base — a position he had barely played before the majors — with the second and third hits of his big-league career Sunday.
"He's had an unbelievable season in Triple-A, and he deserves to be up here," Trout said of his fellow New Jersey native. "I'm just happy for him."
Calhoun hit his 21st homer and Shohei Ohtani got his 100th major league RBI with a game-tying sacrifice fly for the Angels, who also tagged out three Mariners at the plate.
Domingo Santana and Austin Nola hit early homers off Angels rookie José Suarez for the Mariners, who have lost seven of eight.
"Not a good series, but they're playing very well," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "They're very dangerous right now at the plate."
Ty Buttrey (5-4) pitched the eighth, and Hansel Robles finished for his 13th save.
Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi yielded just two hits, but the Japanese left-hander also walked four and couldn't get an out in the fifth inning. Ohtani walked and struck out in his latest meeting with his fellow product of Hanamaki Higashi High School in Japan.
"It was a really hot day out there, but I felt like I was able to do what I wanted to do," Kikuchi said through a translator. "They hit me pretty well the last two starts, so I tried to go in with a different approach. They have a really good lineup, but today I didn't really get hit (hard)."
Andrelton Simmons drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth, and Ohtani followed with a long fly that gave him 100 RBIs in 160 games with the Angels.
Trout's incredible recent success at the plate was interrupted when he played just two innings in the series finale. The All-Star lined out to first in his only plate appearance.
The two-time AL MVP had eight homers and 18 RBIs in his previous seven games, becoming just the sixth player in AL history to reach those totals in a seven-game span. He homered in each of this series' first two games, including a memorable first-pitch blast Friday.
Trout will have an MRI on Monday, but the injury doesn't look serious.
"I didn't think it was a big deal," Trout said. "Obviously I wanted to stay in the game, but I'm not going to win that battle with Brad (Ausmus)."
Mariners: RHP Sam Tuivailala will make at least one more appearance for Triple-A Tacoma before he returns from a torn Achilles tendon that has kept him out of the majors since last August.
Angels: C Jonathan Lucroy is expected to be out for about three weeks after he has surgery Tuesday on the fourth broken nose of his career. Lucroy also incurred his third diagnosed concussion in a collision with Houston's Jake Marisnick before the All-Star break. ... OF Brian Goodwin could return Monday from a bruised right wrist.
Mariners: Marco Gonzales (10-7, 4.24 ERA) will go after his sixth win in seven impressive starts since June 7 when Seattle opens a road series Tuesday against Oakland and Daniel Mengden (4-2, 4.73).
Angels: Rookie Griffin Canning (3-4, 4.43 ERA) gets his first look at the AL West-leading Houston Astros, who visit the Big A for a four-game series.