OAKLAND -- Angels left fielder J.B. Shuck had what he admitted was the defensive game of his life Wednesday. He gunned down Chris Young trying to stretch a single into two bases in the second, he leaped near the wall to snag Young's liner in the fifth and he dove full extension to rob Derek Norris of extra bases in the eighth.
And in the 11th, with the Angels up a run and Ernesto Frieri in for the save, he was removed from the game for a defensive replacement.
"We won the game and that's all I care about," Shuck said after a 5-4 win at O.co Coliseum. "If I stay in or don't, and we win the game, that's all that matters."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn't let Shuck's defensive clinic interrupt his year-long game plan, which has him sub in the more adept Collin Cowgill when his team leads in the final inning -- particularly with a fly-ball pitcher like Frieri on the mound.
The bigger point here is that Shuck continues to get better -- when everybody was wondering when the league would figure him out.
He led off the 11th with a double, scored the winning run on Josh Hamilton's sac fly and kept his batting average at .296. The 26-year-old leads all American League rookies in hits (121), runs (56), total bases (153), doubles (20) and multi-hit games (35) -- and sometimes he'll even shine defensively.
"We keep seeing J.B. and it's deep into a long road trip, deep into a long year, and he just keeps playing hard and making plays," Scioscia said.
"I've just tried to stay the same," Shuck said. "I haven't tried to do too much. I think that's helped me not get too high or too low. I've had a lot of guys who have helped me learn what it is to be a big leaguer. This being my first year, I've had a lot of help."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.