Ji-Man Choi Helps Surging Angels to 9-5 Victory With First Home Run

Ji-Man Choi's first career home run in the Major Leagues helped keep the Angel surging from a four-run deficit, to 9-5 victory.

ANAHEIM -- Chapter one. It was not the best of times. It was the worst of times.

One hit in 24 plate appearances. Ji-Man Choi just wasn't cutting it.

The Angels were 13-21, and in route to Seattle for a three-game series. Choi, was heading to Salt Lake, Utah, and the minors.

Two months later, two separate stories began to take fold.

In Baltimore, Maryland, the Angels are batting in the sixth inning and C.J. Cron is hit in the wrist, the second time in three innings. He's taken out of the game soon after

In Salt Lake, Utah, the Bees are in the third inning and Choi is lifted for a pinch-hitter. Back in Maryland, it's announced Cron has fractured his hand.

Choi is on his way to Baltimore. Chapter Two.

The Angels are on a stretch of three consecutive victories and Monday, July 18th, is suddenly on the calendar.

Choi has reached in all five games he's played in since rejoining the Angels, with hits in four straight. Then the fifth inning. 87-MPH four-seamer from A.J. Griffin of the Rangers. Hit deep, beyond the fences, home run.

"I had faced him before," Choi said through a translator, "so I knew a little about him. I didn't think about hitting a home run. I just hit it and it went out."

Choi trotted around the bases alone, and once he reached the dugout, he was alone once again. A standard cliche for a players' first home run, ignorance. Choi enjoyed the trick his teammates played, and gave high fives to his teammates - the invisible ones, cheering him on, and celebrating with him. He was soon bombarded by his teammates, the existent ones, with actual cheers.

"The silent treatment in the dugout was funny," said Angels' manager, Mike Scioscia. "Those guys kind of let him know there's a different tradition in the United States for your first home run. They got him good in the clubhouse after."

The first career Major League home run for the 25-year-old from Seoul, South Korea, brought the Angels within one run, and eventually put the Halos in the win column, 9-5, over division leaders, Texas Rangers. The same game that saw the Rangers ahead by four runs after just two innings.

Choi is now 5-for-18 since his return from Triple-A, and it all stems from a very simple step.

"Only one change was regular at bats," said Choi. "I got an opportunity to find consistency."

The Angels of Anaheim took their fourth victory in-a-row on Monday night, closing their gap for the wildcard standings, but still remaining in double digits distance and 10.5 games back. Things are heading in the right direction for Scioscia's bunch in Orange County, however.

"We're having fun right now," said Angels star outfielder, Mike Trout. "We're going out there and putting a full game together."

This article was written and published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher for Scout.com. For more updates on the Angels, follow Taylor on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard

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