So what if five of his seven starts this season have come against former All-Stars, two of them Cy Young Award winners. Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker counters those aces with a wild card of his own, the mound bravado of baseball's all-time strikeout king.
"When he's out there, he feels like he's Nolan Ryan," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's maybe 10 mph short, but he goes out with that attitude, the mentality of a gunslinger. … He feels like he can get anybody out, and that's a great makeup to have if you're going to have success in the major leagues."
Shoemaker added Texas right-hander Yu Darvish to his list of vanquished stars Sunday night, giving up one run and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking two in a 5-2 victory that capped a three-game sweep of the Rangers in Angel Stadium.
Shoemaker, who signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2008 and opened the season as a long reliever, is 5-0 with a 2.66 earned-run average as a starter, holding his own against the likes of Cliff Lee, David Price, James Shields, Chris Sale and Darvish.
"It doesn't really come into play except in the aftermath," Shoemaker said of beating the game's best pitchers. "It's pretty cool. Those guys have done a lot for this game, and hopefully I can be in their shoes some day. It's definitely something I savor."
Darvish began the game with a 7-3 record and 2.39 ERA this season, and a 7-1 record and 3.82 ERA in 11 starts against the Angels. He gave up four runs in the fourth inning on C.J. Cron's leadoff home run, his third in three games, David Freese's run-scoring double and Kole Calhoun's two-run home run off the foul pole in right field.
But it was the Angels' first-inning run, on a controversial violation of the home-plate collision rule, that generated the most conversation.
Calhoun took off for second base on an Albert Pujols single to center field, pulled into third base and bolted for home when center fielder Leonys Martin's throw sailed into foul territory between third base and the plate.
Darvish retrieved the errant throw and tossed to catcher Chris Gimenez, who had little time to adjust his positioning at the plate on the quickly developing play. Calhoun was tagged out, but replay officials in New York deemed the catcher in violation of Rule 7.13 because he blocked the plate without the ball.
According to Major League Baseball, the catcher was not in the act of receiving the throw, nor did he have possession of the ball. As a result, the runner did not have a lane to the plate. The call was overturned, giving the Angels a 1-0 lead.
"That was an instinctive play," said Manager Ron Washington, who was ejected for arguing the call. "There was no intention of blocking the plate. I think each play has got to be judged for what it is.
"What's the catcher supposed to do? Look down at his foot and make sure he's on a certain side of the plate so he gives him a lane, all while something is going on? There's no way he can do that."
Calhoun said Gimenez was "right on the plate," leaving him no choice but to slide into the catcher.
"I couldn't go inside, I couldn't go outside, and the catcher is supposed to give you a lane with the new rule," Calhoun said. "Hopefully, you make contact and put the call in their hands."
The play was tame compared to some of the violent collisions Scioscia, the former Dodgers catcher, absorbed, but whether there was intent to block the plate, the manager felt the right call was made.
"It's a new world for plays at the plate," Scioscia said. "As a catcher you have to give the runner a lane before you have the ball, and I think that was clearly the case here.
"It's a rule that will get a lot of scrutiny as time goes on, much like the transfer rule. It keeps evolving, and I'm sure we'll get more clarity on it."Copyright © 2015, CT Now