The one thing the Angels couldn’t afford to do today was lose.
And of course, they lost.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Angels lost to the Oakland A’s 9-8. Despite multiple comeback attempts, the Angels eventually lost thanks to a struggling bullpen. They now sit 7 games back from the Rangers in the division, and 1.5 out of a wild card spot.
The game started off with an impressive first impression by the recently called up Dan Straily. Straily struck out the side (Trout, Hunter, and Pujols) in the 1st inning. Straily, who still leads the minor leagues in strikeouts despite his call-up, has been both impressive and amiss in his two starts this season. He has allowed 6 earned runs in his 10.2 innings, but has also struck out 10 and walked just 2.
The Angels scored first in the top of the 2nd on a solo home run to right field by Kendrys Morales. The A’s quickly gave themselves a 3-run cushion in the bottom of the 2nd when they scored 4 runs. Zack Greinke began the 2nd by walking Chris Carter, then allowed the newly-acquired George Kottaras to smack a 2-run shot to center. After striking out Brandon Inge, Greinke walked Coco Crisp and Jemile Weeks, then allowed back-to-back RBI singles to Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick to give the A’s a 4-1 lead.
The A’s quickly gave a run back in the top of the 3rd when Chris Iannetta went deep off of Straily. Trout and Hunter then hit back-to-back singles to give the Angels two on with no outs, but Pujols, Trumbo, and Morales all promptly flew out.
The scoring began again in the 5th, when Torii Hunter launched a solo shot and Morales smacked a 2-run homer (his 2nd of the game), giving the Angels a 5-4 lead.
Morales has been on a hot streak of late, hitting .361 with 5 home runs on this recent road trip. He has raised his seasonal slash line to .279/.325/.448 and is on pace to hit 20 home runs.
Zack Greinke was pulled after 5, having thrown 103 pitches. Greinke now has a 5.78 ERA in his 3 starts as an Angel and is win-less. His last 2 outings against the A’s and White Sox have been particularly rough, as he has given up a combined 10 runs in 12 innings. The Angels will need Greinke to step it up, along with the rest of the rotation, if they want to get past their recent bullpen problems.
Speaking of bullpen problems, LaTroy Hawkins had probably his worst outing of the year, and cost the Halos a victory. Hawkins allowed 5 runs to score in the bottom of the 6th, including back-to-back multi-RBI hits by Yoenis Cespedes (2-run single) and Chris Carter (2-run homer to left). The Angels now lead the AL with 17 blown saves and their bullpen ERA since the All-Star break is 6.65.
Mark Trumbo put the Angels back on the board in the top of the 7th with a blast to left-center field.* That pushed the A’s lead to 9-6.
*Trumbo’s blast marked the Angels’ 23rd home run of the road trip, and their MLB-best 44th since the All-Star break. They also tied their season high by hitting five home runs in today’s game.
The Angels made a run at a comeback in the top of the 9th when Vernon Wells (who was pinch running for Kendrys) and Albert Pujols found themselves on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Howie Kendrick then singled each of them in, bringing the deficit to just one run. Kendrick then stole second to give the Angels the tying runner in scoring position. Erick Aybar stepped up to bat with a chance to tie the game.
And of course, he grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
The Angels ended up going 4-6 on their road trip to Texas, Chicago, and Oakland. Luckily the Angels get a breather on Thursday, as they have an off day before they begin a 10 game home stand against the Mariners, Indians, and Rays. These will be 3 very crucial series, as the Angels look to retake the wild card lead, and make a push at the division.
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