Los Angeles Angels’ Kaleb Cowart watches his three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
The Los Angeles Angels Kaleb Cowart rounds the bases after his three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the fifth inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Fans watch as a home run by the Los Angeles Angels Kaleb Cowart leaves the park during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The Angels’ Martin Maldonado and C.J. Cron greet Kaleb Cowart at home after Cowart’s three-run home run during the fifth inning of their 10-1 rout of the Texas Rangers on Tuesday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Los Angeles Angels’ Kaleb Cowart, right, celebrates his three-run home run with Martin Maldonado during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
The Los Angeles Angels Kaleb Cowart is congratulated after his three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the fifth inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The Los Angeles Angels Kaleb Cowart is congratulated in the dugout after his three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the fifth inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
ANAHEIM — It took 238 minutes and 352 pitches to finish this little slice of heaven that became a 10-1 win by the Angels on Tuesday night.
Most people who were here at the beginning exercised their freedom of movement and left. Kaleb Cowart couldn’t. He is accustomed to vigil.
At 25, Cowart is getting his first sustained big-league innings and is doing so in the thick of a quasi-pennant race. He also is doing it at second base, which is not what he envisioned when he was tearing it up as a pitcher/third baseman at his Georgia high school.
“I would have laughed if you had told me that,” Cowart said.
In this one, Cowart lofted a three-run homer that gave the Angels a 6-1 lead over Texas. Then Albert Pujols followed with his 610th home run, which put him No. 8 on the all-time list and broke a tie with Sammy Sosa, who was previously the all-time foreign-born home run hitter.
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) August 23, 2017
The Angels took it home from there, although home had already beckoned most of the crowd of 37,033. Since Minnesota beat the White Sox, the Angels remained a half-game out of the second American League wild card spot, but seven games remain on this homestand.
They wound up with 16 hits and 13 men left on base, both season highs. But the big hits from Cowart and Pujols had not been commonplace.
Cowart was 2 for 19 on the Angels’ previous trip and was 0 for 14 when he homered in Baltimore on Friday.
Pujols’ homer was his third of the month, and his OPS (.651) had dropped 35 points in August.
“Every time he does something it seems like it’s a record,” Cowart said. “It’s a thrill being able to hit a home run in the same game he does.”
The historical interlude helped the remaining fans forget that they spent a long time watching nothing. Texas starter Tyson Ross had required 80 pitches to get through three innings. Angels starter Ricky Nolasco needed 68. And the Angels left five men on base in the first two innings.
Cowart was the 18th pick in the 2010 draft, the final one that legendary scouting director Eddie Bane was permitted to conduct in Anaheim. It wasn’t that lush a draft. Six of the players picked ahead of Cowart never made the big leagues.
For a while it seemed Cowart might not either. In 2013 and 2014 he hit .224 and .221 at Double-A Arkansas. That earned him a spot at High-A Inland Empire in 2015. By then the Angels had moved him to second, after briefly entertaining the idea of putting him on the mound.
“The footwork was different, there was a lot of stuff to get used to,” Cowart said. “My Triple-A manager, Keith Johnson, gave me a lot of help with it once I got to Salt Lake.
“I think going through all of that has made me a better person, not just a better player. Sometimes you have to go through some failure, to figure things out. Lately I’ve just been trying to get better pitches, improve pitch selection. You can’t be fouling off the pitch that you’re supposed to hit. Not up here.”
Cowart is still hitting .275 despite his downturn. Obviously, he would provide a talent boost from the minor leagues that the Angels have rarely seen in the post-Bane years.
Otherwise, this was probably not the first baseball game you wanted your kid to see, unless his attention span rivals that of an astronomer.
The long stretches of nothingness would have been tough to salvage even if the players had put nicknames on their backs, which is the marketing breakthrough that Major League Baseball is giving us in this weekend’s games.
The issue is not whether young people like baseball. The issue is that by the time games like this are over, they’re not young people anymore.
But not everyone will forget this one. Nick Gardewine, from Effingham, Ill., and Kaskaskia College, made his Rangers debut and was the pitcher who gave up Pujols’ milestone home run.
He was a fan of Pujols as he grew up, as were most up-and-coming players in the Midwest.
Sometimes Pujols can still teach the younger generation a thing or two, even if it’s past his bedtime.
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) August 23, 2017
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