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ANAHEIM — The Angels fell short of their playoff goals after going 80-82 and finishing second in the American League West in 2017, but the year was still filled with plenty of highlights worth remembering.
Here’s a look back at the Angels’ top five moments from 2017:
1. Albert Pujols‘ 600th homer
Pujols joined one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs in June, when he became the ninth player to hit 600 homers. Pujols’ milestone came in unprecedented fashion, as he crushed a grand slam off Twins right-hander Ervin Santana to become the first player to reach the 600 mark with a slam.
Pujols, who currently ranks seventh all-time with 614 homers, should continue to climb the home run leaderboard next year and is only 16 away from tying Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place.
2. Angels rally for seven runs in the ninth to stun the Mariners
The Angels had a habit of making it interesting late in games, as their 47 comeback wins were tied with the Dodgers for the most in the Majors. The Halos engineered their most thrilling comeback in the second week of the season, when they rallied for seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to stun the Mariners, 10-9, and complete a three-game sweep at Angel Stadium.
“There’s no time limit in these games,” said Cliff Pennington, who delivered the walk-off single for the Angels. “You’ve got to get 27 outs. They didn’t get the 27th one today.”
3. Eric Young Jr.‘s honors late baby son with go-ahead homer vs. Braves
The Angels suffered a massive blow in May when Mike Trout tore a thumb ligament and landed on the disabled list for the first time in his career, but they received an unexpected lift from Young, who initially thrived after being called up from Triple-A to fill in for Trout. On May 31, Young delivered a tiebreaking, eighth-inning home run against the Braves. In one of the most moving scenes of the season, Young held up three fingers as he rounded the bases, a nod to his late baby son, Eric Young Jr. III, who died in January after being born 11 weeks premature.
“I know I shed plenty of tears this year,” Young said afterward. “It was just a special moment.”
4. Andrew Heaney returns from Tommy John surgery
The Angels entered Spring Training with no intention of bringing back Heaney, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery, in 2017. But Heaney was determined to pitch for the Angels before the end of the season, and he accomplished his goal in August at Camden Yards after completing a seamless rehab. Heaney made five uneven starts before he landed on the disabled list again with a shoulder issue, but he is expected to be healthy next spring.
5. Angels acquire Justin Upton, Brandon Phillips in Aug. 31 trades
After an 18-10 August, the Angels sought to separate themselves from a crowded race of Wild Card contenders, so they swung a pair of trades for Upton and Phillips with the hope that the two veterans would help bolster their lineup over the final month of the season.
“What we were starting to see is the punches were getting stronger,” general manager Billy Eppler said at the time. “Their play warranted continued investment in the club.”
The Angels managed to stay in the Wild Card hunt until the final week of the season, though they ultimately could not catch the upstart Twins. While Phillips proved to be a rental, Upton figures to be a key piece for the club moving forward. On the first day of the offseason, he re-signed with the Angels on a five-year, $106 million deal, forgoing another chance at free agency to stay in Anaheim.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.