Frustrating Week in Anaheim

Angels

It is Tuesday, August 1st, and the Angels are 56-52 and three games back of a Wild Card spot at the trade deadline as they were set to play game two of their three-game set against the MLB-best Atlanta Braves in Atlanta after already winning game one of the series. Fast forward to last night’s ninth-inning collapse against the San Francisco Giants, and all of a sudden, the Angels have lost seven straight games and are now eight games out of a Wild Card spot.

A lot has happened in the past seven days, but it seems as though whatever could have gone wrong for the Angels this past week. But the Angels’ struggles have been around longer than that.

After winning eight of nine games against the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Detroit Tigers, the Angels barely avoided getting swept by the Toronto Blue Jays. A series where the offense only mustered a 1-28 with runners in scoring position with 35 runners left on base.

The Angels traveled to Atlanta and took game one of the series, which has gone downhill ever since.

On deadline day, the Halos offense was dominated by one of the game’s most electric pitchers, Spencer Strider, and lost 5-1. Then the wheels fell off for newly acquired starter Lucas Giolito as he gave up nine earned runs in just three and two-thirds innings pitched, and they lost 12-5. Giolito gave up three home runs which accounted for six of the nine runs he gave up.

The Angels flew home after that game for a four-game series against the division-rival Seattle Mariners, who happened to be a half-game ahead of the Angels in the standings. Holding a 3-1 lead in the ninth, All-Star closer Carlos Estévez blew his first save opportunity of the season as he walked the first two batters, then gave up a single, and finally gave up a grand slam to rookie Cade Marlowe. It was only the second time that Estévez had given up more than one run in an outing this year, and the Angels lost 5-3.

Game two was a roller coaster ride where Reid Detmers gave up four runs in the first inning; then the Angels would tie it up at 5-5, Mariners retook the lead, and the Angels would tie it again at 7-7. An RBI single in the eighth by Eugenio Suárez and a solo home run by Cal Raleigh in the ninth gave the Mariners a 9-7 lead. The Angels threatened in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second with nobody out. Still, poor situational hitting was too much for the Angels to overcome as Shohei Ohtani, C.J. Cron, and Mike Moustakas went strikeout, strikeout, pop-out, in that order.

In the third game of the series, the Angels found themselves down 3-1 in the ninth and ran into some bad luck when Brandon Drury hit a ground-rule double with runners on first and second with two outs and because of the ground-rule double, Mike Moustakas was unable to score from first to tie the game. Mickey Moniak was intentionally walked to load the bases for Hunter Renfroe, who struck out to end the game.

The series finale was no different for the Halos. Rookie pitcher Chase Silseth pitched a gem going seven innings, only giving up two runs and striking out 12 Mariner hitters. Still, the Angels offense could not help him, and Matt Thaiss’ game-tying home run in the seventh was the Angels’ only hit after the third inning. Eugenio Suárez hit an RBI single in the 10th inning to give the Mariners a 3-2 lead, which would end up being the final to complete the four-game sweep.

The Angels were then looking to turn things around with the San Francisco Giants coming to town after they had suffered a two-game sweep to the last place Oakland Athletics.

Things were looking good for the Halos as they had a 3-2 lead heading to the ninth after Mickey Moniak robbed a game-tying home run away from Joc Pederson to end the eighth inning. Carlos Estévez came in to close it out in the ninth, but this is where the wheels again fell off for the Angels.

Estévez walked the first two batters of the inning, then Randal Grichuk misplayed a ball in left field, and it rolled to the wall, giving the Giants a lead on a Patrick Bailey double. Michael Conforto gets intentionally walked, and Luis Matos lays down a sacrifice bunt to make it second and third with one out. Mark Mathias singles in both runs to make it 6-3 Giants, and Estévez gets taken out of the game. Aaron Loup gave up three more hits to make it 8-3. Giants closer Camilo Doval struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win.

Estévez’s ERA was 1.88, but after blowing his first two save opportunities this season, it has skyrocketed to 3.57. Everyone goes through rough patches, and Estévez was not going to keep up his dominance forever; it is just unfortunate timing that he is struggling as the Angels are desperately trying to stay in the Wild Card race.

The Angels’ recent skid is not Estévez’s fault either; the last week and a half struggle has been an entire team effort. The Angels continue to struggle with runners in scoring position, the starting pitching has been inconsistent, and the bullpen has had plenty of hiccups. Not to mention the 18 players on the Angels’ injured list.

Since the start of the Toronto series, the Angels are 2-11 and have dropped to 56-58 while being eight games out of a Wild Card Spot. It is not going to get any easier for them, either. After they finish this series against the Giants, the Angels hit the road to face the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, come home to play the Tampa Bay Rays and Cincinnati Reds, then hit the road again to play the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies to finish August. The Mets are the only team in that stretch with a losing record, and the Angels are currently 31-42 against teams with a winning record.

Sure, Logan O’Hoppe is starting his rehab assignment next week, and Mike Trout is expected to be back in the next couple of weeks, but two players returning from injury do not seem to be all that is needed for the Angels to turn things around.

The Angels were the most aggressive team at the trade deadline, and it has not worked out so far. The Angels need to turn it around and turn it around fast to get back in it. They need their starters to give them more quality innings, the bullpen to be more consistent, the offense to capitalize with runners in scoring position, and to stay healthy. It is a tall task, but the Angels have two months to salvage their season.

Game two of the series is tonight, and Lucas Giolito looks to bounce back after giving up nine earned runs in his last outing as the Giants will be using an opener with south-paw Scott Alexander.

Jack Janes

Journalism major at the University of La Verne. Played college baseball at Fullerton College and the University of La Verne. Also write for Inside The Rink.

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