The last time Tommy La Stella had hit a walk-off home run, the Angels second baseman said he was “probably about seven years old.”
La Stella was grinning ear-to-ear like a kid after hitting a two-run walk-off homer to beat the San Francisco Giants 7-6 at Angels Stadium on Monday night.
La Stella’s homer was desperately needed for an Angels club that had just suffered a four-game losing streak. They improved to 8-15.
“It’s huge, it’s been tough of late,” La Stella said, after greeting his jubilant teammates at the dugout and having a bottle of drinking water poured over his shaved head. “It feels kind of like we haven’t all been clicking at the same time yet/
“But this is a great team and these guys are resilient. We’ve been pushing through it, so hopefully this is the start of something.”
Monday’s game was another see-saw affair that saw the Angels fall behind 2-0 behind right-handed starter Griffing Canning.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout delivered yet another home run though — this one a two-run opposite field shot into the right field bleachers to tie the score at 2-2.
It was the 10th homer of the season for the red-hot Trout — and ninth since the July 30 birth of his son Beckham Trout. Trout also set an Angels franchise record for home runs after 23 games.
The homer was a rarity for Trout, in that he hit it on the first pitch of the at-bat off Giants left-hander Tyler Anderson. Only 25 of Trout’s 295 career HRs have come on the first pitch.
But Canning, who pitched into the fifth, couldn’t put away the Giants. In the fifth, Donovan Solano’s RBI single chased Canning in favor of lefty Hoby Milner with the Angels trailing 3-2.
Said Canning: “The focus for me was just having conviction with each of my pitches.”
The Angels rallied back to retake the lead in the bottom of the fifth, with Anthony Rendon and Albert Pujols providing RBI doubles.
Pujols’ double was nearly his 660th — which would have tied him on the all-time homer list with former Giants Hall of Famer Willie Mays. But the ball was just a couple inches short on the low left-field corner wall.
“Albert almost did it, just hit the middle of the wall,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said.
But that lead didn’t last long either, as Milner but two Giants on base with one out, and Angels reliever Noe Ramirez, who has been steady of late, couldn’t hold the lead.
Ramirez issued a sacrifice fly to Chadwick Tromp before Mike Yastrzemski ripped a bases-clearing double, scoring Brandon Crawford and Mauricio Dubon for a 6-5 San Francisco lead.
A solid job of relief by Mike Mayers, Felix Pena and Ty Buttrey held down the fort though, as they tossed 3-1/3 scoreless innings.
“The relievers at the end of the game permitted this to happen,” Maddon said. “We need more of that, we need a lot more of that.
“But a lot of good things happened tonight.”