Cron de­liv­ers big in a late pinch

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Pe­dro Moura pe­dro.moura@la­times.com Twit­ter: @pe­dro­moura

He comes off the bench to hit a two-run homer in the eighth in­ning.

Fac­ing their first tense sit­u­a­tion in their sixth game to­gether, An­gels short­stop An­drel­ton Sim­mons and sec­ond base­man Nick Franklin hud­dled in the mid­dle of the An­gel Sta­dium in­field to discuss what they would do with a grounder hit their way in Sunday’s ninth in­ning.

While pitch­ing coach Charles Nagy vis­ited the mound, the Tampa Bay Ray rep­re­sent­ing the ty­ing run waited at third base. With one out, the go-ahead run stood at sec­ond, a su­per­flu­ous run­ner at first.

Sim­mons, an elite de­fender, and Franklin, less so, set­tled on a de­ci­sion. If a ball came slowly, they’d take the out at first base. Fast, and they’d throw home. The pos­si­bil­ity of a dou­ble play went un­men­tioned.

The first pitch to Tim Beck­ham from closer Bud Nor­ris was a cut­ter cradling the out­side cor­ner of the strike zone. Beck­ham swung and tapped it to short­stop, not too hard, not too slow. Sim­mons elected to free­lance, scoop­ing it and shov­el­ing it to sec­ond. Franklin un­leashed his best throw to first base and it beat Beck­ham by half a step.

Nor­ris clapped his hands and pointed to the sky, Sim­mons drop-kicked his glove, and Franklin ex­cit­edly shouted. The ty­ing run had touched home, but no mat­ter: The dou­ble play meant the An­gels had se­cured a 4-3 vic­tory and saved them­selves from fall­ing five games out of an in­creas­ingly taut American League wild­card race.

“I knew we’d get it,” first base­man C.J. Cron said. “Sim­mons makes ev­ery play.”

An in­ning ear­lier, Cron clubbed the An­gels’ first pinch-hit homer in 13 months to push them ahead. Rel­e­gated to a re­serve role, he had bat­ted only four times in 10 days since his most re­cent call-up, but he swung at the first pitch when he stepped up against left­handed re­liever Adam Ko­larek.

Cron sent an over-themid­dle fast­ball into the first row of the right-field seats, just enough dis­tance for a two-run home run.

“I wanted to be ag­gres­sive, be­cause that’s the kind of hit­ter I am,” he said. “I’m a big dude. That’s kind of why I’m here, to put a charge into a ball.”

Staked to a two-run lead, Nor­ris struck out Corey Dick­er­son on three pitches to be­gin the ninth. Then the next three Rays recorded hits and pro­duced a run. The fourth, Brad Miller, worked a walk to load the bases with one out, be­fore the gameend­ing dou­ble play.

Early, the An­gels ex­tended their streak of hit­less at-bats with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion from 15 to 20. It ended only when Al­bert Pu­jols punched a hang­ing 1and-2 slider from starter Chris Archer into right field for a run-scor­ing single in the fifth. Martin Mal­don­ado squeezed home an­other run in the sixth.

Rookie right-han­der Parker Brid­well made it back to the big leagues af­ter a pro­ce­dural de­mo­tion to triple A amid the All-Star break. Tak­ing care to re­main hy­drated for his Sunday start, he had kept wa­ter with him all week­end, drink­ing as much as he could stom­ach.

Just be­fore he scaled the dugout steps and took the mound for his sec­ond in­ning, he chugged a 16.9-ounce bot­tle. Soon, he felt the un­con­trol­lable urge to burp.

Soon af­ter that, he re­al­ized it wasn’t a burp he re­quired. He vom­ited “pure wa­ter” four or five times while Beck­ham bat­ted, prompt­ing a visit from Nagy, ath­letic trainer Adam Ne­vala and man­ager Mike Scios­cia. He as­sured them he was fine.

“I got on the rub­ber, took the sign, stepped off, and threw up,” Brid­well said. “I just drank it way too fast. I got wa­ter logged.”

Brid­well held the Rays score­less through six in­nings. He stayed in for the seventh, only to sur­ren­der a two-run homer to Lo­gan Mor­ri­son. Two bat­ters later, his day was done. He still struck out eight and walked just one in his 61⁄3 in­nings, seal­ing his spot in the An­gels’ rocky ro­ta­tion.

Jae C. Hong As­so­ci­ated Press

C.J. CRON is greeted by An­drel­ton Sim­mons af­ter hit­ting a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the eighth in­ning to help the An­gels beat Tampa Bay 4-3.

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