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Angels lose fifth straight game on unlucky break

Nov 01, 2023

Rhett Bollinger

ANAHEIM -- The breaks just don’t seem to be going the Angels’ way right now.

With the Angels trailing by two runs with two runners on and down to their last out in the ninth inning, Brandon Drury ripped a hard line drive to left field that got by Dylan Moore and looked like it would tie the game. But the ball bounced over the short left-field fence for a ground-rule double, forcing pinch-runner Andrew Velazquez back to third base.

Hunter Renfroe still had the chance to be hero after Mickey Moniak was intentionally walked to load the bases, but he struck out to hand the Angels yet another tough 3-2 loss to the Mariners on Saturday night at Angel Stadium. They’ve now dropped five in a row and seven of nine, ending any momentum they had after winning nine of 12 out of the All-Star break.

“Like I said yesterday, we’re going to come out today and fight, and we did,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “We had a chance to win late and the ball just barely jumps over the fence or else it’s a tie game there. It’s a game of inches, as they say, but it bit us today.”

The Angels were aggressive at Tuesday's Trade Deadline in an attempt to reach the postseason in the last year of Shohei Ohtani’s contract, but they’ve yet to win a game since. At 56-56, they’re back at .500 for the first time since July 18 and now trail the Blue Jays by six games in the AL Wild Card chase. Making it even more difficult, they’re also behind the Mariners (59-52), Yankees (58-53) and Red Sox (57-53).

“Everyone is talking right now like it’s the end of the season, but there are a significant amount of games left,” said lefty Tyler Anderson “We're one good streak away from being right in the middle of things right here. The last five or six games, we faced some tough teams, but we were in every game. Even tonight, we’re tied in the ninth if the ball doesn’t bounce over the wall.”

The pitching was mostly at fault in their losses to Seattle on Thursday and Friday, as closer Carlos Estévez gave up a go-ahead grand slam in the ninth inning of a heartbreaking loss in the opener, while lefty Reid Detmers gave up seven runs in a 9-7 defeat on Friday.

It's hard to fault Anderson, who has been pitching better recently and kept it going with five solid innings against the Mariners. His lone mistake was giving up a two-run double to Julio Rodríguez in the third inning on an 0-2 changeup with two outs.

“Clearly, he was looking for it,” Anderson said. “It was all the way barely touching the zone on the outer part and down. For him to go down there and pull that, he has to be looking for that.”

Those were the only two runs that Anderson surrendered over five innings and 80 pitches, but it proved to be enough for the Mariners. Anderson was lifted in the sixth with Rodríguez due up to open the frame, as the Angels didn’t want him to go a third time through the order.

Anderson, who signed a three-year deal worth $39 million before the season, has a 4.92 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts), but has posted a 3.34 ERA over his last six outings dating back to July 1.

“I feel like I’ve been feeling better,” Anderson said. “My body has been feeling better. I think it’s just because I’ve been pitching more.”

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The offense, however, failed to do much against Mariners right-hander George Kirby, who threw seven strong innings. The lone run they scored against him came on a solo blast from Randal Grichuk in the third inning.

The Angels are now in danger of being swept in four games by the Mariners and have the Giants coming to town for a three-game series that starts on Monday. They then head on a critical road trip to Texas against the Astros and Rangers, and need to turn it around in a hurry if they want to get back into postseason contention.

“The optimism will still be there tomorrow,” Nevin said. “This team fights. You saw it today. You're going to see it every day. That's not going to change. Certainly the losses, the disappointment and the hurt, it’s a tough room to be in right now. But we also know we have 51 games left, and a lot of things can happen.”