video thumbnail

TB@LAA: Shoemaker turns in six strong frames vs. Rays

ANAHEIM -- Matt Shoemaker is 2-0 with 2.45 ERA in two starts this season for the Angels, but he has no idea when he will get a next one, or even if there will be a next one. He seems fine with all that, though.

Albert Pujols, with two on Sunday, has 504 home runs in his career, tying him with Hall of Fame first baseman Eddie Murray for No. 25 on the career list, and he doesn't want to talk about career numbers while his career is still in progress.

The two of them were the most prominent Angels on Sunday in a 6-2 victory over the Rays at Angel Stadium, their third victory in the four-game series and eighth victory in their past 10 games.

"Winning is my focus," said Pujols, who had not homered since May 4 before going deep twice against former Cy Young Award winner David Price. "I don't care about the numbers. I've got plenty of time when I retire to look back."

Pujols had a difficult six-game trip a week ago, in terms of hits and RBI production, but he felt he was swinging the bat well despite reports to the contrary. He was more interested in the fact the Angels went 5-1.

"Those were the same swings I've been taking the past couple of weeks," Pujols said of his homers. "I just wasn't getting hits. "The timing might go away for a couple of games, or even a series. As long as you try to stay positive and don't try to kill yourself in [the batting] cage, it will come."

Shoemaker, who pitched six two-hit innings before leaving in the seventh with a man on, a 5-0 lead and none out, is at the other end of the career spectrum. Undrafted, the right-hander made the hard climb through six years in the Minors, finally reaching Anaheim in September.

Asked if he thought he still had to earn a spot after beating the Phillies and the Rays, Shoemaker said: "I feel like you've got to earn whatever you're doing. You've got to go out, put up zeros and help your team win."

All of that transpired Sunday, as well as Tuesday in Philadelphia. Shoemaker, who made his debut with five scoreless innings in one September start, is the third pitcher in the past 100 years to have three or more strikeouts and allow three or fewer hits in his first three starts, joining the Dodgers' Chan Ho Park in 1995 and the Rays' Jeremy Hellickson in 2010.

"I've got this opportunity here, and I go out and there and roll with it," he said after striking out six, walking three and allowing a sun-aided double by David DeJesus and a first-inning single by Matt Joyce. "Each game comes, and I take it for what it is. "I just go out there and battle. I thrive on competition. I love it."

Shoemaker came out after walking James Loney to open the seventh -- manager Mike Scioscia said he thought he was gassed -- and reliever Matt Morin gave up a two-run homer to Kevin Kiermaier (the Rays rookie's first in the Majors).

"I felt really good," Shoemaker said. "I used all four of my pitches, and I threw all four of them for strikes."

Catcher Chris Iannetta said Shoemaker "used all of them really well, and he kept them off-balance."

Scioscia said Shoemaker "really showed good fastball command today, had a good split. He pitched well."

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said: "He threw the ball well. We watched some video on him before, and sometimes the video doesn't really tell the whole story of what a guy is. It was bright out there today. He had some deception. And he just outpitched us."

With some off-days factoring into the coming rotation makeup and roster moves looming as injured position players David Freese, Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun are close to returning to active duty, Scioscia said the Angels would "rework some stuff."

Asked about Pujols, Shoemaker did not shy away from his historical significance.

"It's an honor to play with him," the 27-year-old rookie said.

MLB.com Comments