Carlos Beltran's blast takes down Angels, 5-2

Before the ball exited the ballpark, before the score was officially tied, Matt Shoemaker thrust his glove skyward in unadulterated frustration.

After dominating the New York Yankees for more than six innings Monday night and then imploding with impossible immediacy, he was angry.

Up until two minutes prior, the Angels right-hander had been in complete control. None of the first 22 hitters to face him worked the count to three balls. And then he threw three consecutive balls to Brian McCann before leaving two pitches up in the strike zone.

The first, McCann whacked foul down the right-field line. The second, a hanging split-finger fastball, he whacked fair down the right-field line and over the fence for a home run. Two pitches later, Starlin Castro shot another hanging splitter into the second deck and the Yankees had tied the score. Shoemaker did not watch it land. 

Soon enough, after another rapid sequence in the eighth, the Angels had suffered a demoralizing 5-2 defeat at Yankee Stadium.

“I’m pretty fired up right now,” Shoemaker said afterward. “I’m just getting sick of losing, that’s all.”

The Angels are 26-31 overall and 3-8 in Shoemaker’s 11 starts, including two recent losses in which he mostly overpowered the opposition. 

Throughout Monday’s game, Shoemaker had swiftly dispatched Yankees batters, and he recorded two quick outs to start the eighth inning. Jacoby Ellsbury, his only game-long plague, then laced a single to right field and the Angels outfielders stepped back into a no-doubles defense.

Brett Gardner then lofted a fly ball into shallow center field.

Mike Trout gave chase, contemplated diving, opted against it. The ball came to rest not far from him. 

“Last second, I just told myself to try to keep it in front of me, keep him from scoring,” Trout said. “If I lay out, maybe I catch it, but anything can happen.”

Out came Manager Mike Scioscia. In came left-handed reliever Jose Alvarez to flip around switch-hitter Carlos Beltran. And out went Alvarez’s second pitch, which Beltran deposited beyond the short right-field fence for a home run.

Yunel Escobar opened the game with a leadoff single, as he is wont to do. More specifically, the third baseman opened it with a single on the first pitch he saw, as he is also wont to do. 

His seven such hits lead the major leagues in 2016. Albert Pujols proceeded to drive him home for the game’s first run.

The Yankees’ leadoff batter also hit the first pitch he saw for a single. Ellsbury then tried to steal second, but rookie Angels catcher Jett Bandy threw him out. Had Ellsbury succeeded, he probably would have scored one batter later when Beltran singled through the right side. As it was, Shoemaker struck out Alex Rodriguez and cruised through the next five innings.

The Angels added a run in the third. Gregorio Petit knocked a ground-rule double, Escobar bunted him over and Kole Calhoun brought him home with a sacrifice fly. 

Later in the inning, Trout walked and stole second. That was the call anyway. He quite clearly was thrown out, but the Yankees already had challenged Ellsbury’s first-inning steal. 

Trout would be stranded, and the Angels put only three more men on base thereafter, stumbling against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka and set-up man Andrew Miller.

In the ninth, they were retired quickly by closer Aroldis Chapman, twice popping out in foul ground beyond first base. 

That Shoemaker and Tanaka would duel Monday night, both riding recent streaks of splendor, was a funny nod to fate. 

Both rookies in 2014, one with no hype at all and the other with so much, they produced almost identical seasons, and Shoemaker somehow finished ahead of his more ballyhooed counterpart in rookie of the year balloting.

While Tanaka’s is considered better, both men make extensive use of the splitter, and of late Shoemaker has increased the number he has thrown to great success. He is only the eighth pitcher in the last century to strike out six and walk none in four consecutive starts.

The Angels lost three.

Twitter: @pedromoura

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