Today had the makings of a low scoring affair from the beginning: you not only had the Angels and A’s, who share a storied history of close, run-deficient games, but you also had Matt Shoemaker and Sonny Gray pitching for their respective teams. Gray is a young upstart in the AL, who currently has a league leading ERA(came into the game at 1.66) and a 7-3 record that would be perhaps 10-0 on a better team. Matt Shoemaker has been dicey at times this season, but in his last three starts, he’s 1-0 with a 1.45 ERA. The Halos already wrapped up the series win last night, so today was about keeping their win streak alive, and keeping pace with Houston and Texas.
It was a display of perplexingly bad defense early on, and it carried over throughout the game, with both clubs taking turns gifting runs through errors and mistakes. The Angels did no favors for Shoemaker in the second, when Johnny Giavotella had his error-making ability rear it’s ugly head again in the form of a botched, textbook double play. Oakland would then go on to get their first run on the board when Chris Iannetta misplayed a bunt up the third base line and watched from the ground as Ben Zobrist gently skipped over his tag attempt and strolled over home plate.
Matt Shoemaker would rebound from that four out inning, getting out of it with only one run scoring, but would find himself in a slight jam once again in the third. Billy Burns would start off with a single, then steal second and get driven home by a Josh Reddick single, making the game 2-0 Oakland. A couple runs in the hole is not where you want to be when facing someone like Sonny Gray.
Speaking of Gray, he was doing his usual good work from the mound on the Angels, completely blowing through the first three sides, retiring all batters. It was in the fourth, though, that the Angels would finally get a baserunner, when Erick Aybar reached on an error by Marcus Semien. This was when Oakland got their chance to give a run away via errors, as Aybar got to second on a Gray wild pitch, third on a passed ball and then scored via an Albert Pujols single through the right side. Angels were down 2-1.
It was a brief reprieve, because in the sixth, the A’s would pour on some more offense, and eventually knock Matt Shoemaker out of the game. He was replaced by Jose Alvarez, who immediately put himself in the same hornet’s nest that Shoemaker was in, and allowed the game to slip away further. After a string of hits and a few more runs tacked on(including the dreaded two out run), and an appearance by Cam Bedrosian, the Angels managed to get out of the sixth, but not before they were down 5-1.
The A’s would continue to pile on against the Angels’ bullpen, and put them in a deeper hole, but the Angels could never really get any reciprocation out of their offense. There were a couple spurts here and there, after the fourth, when they got some men on, but they would ultimately fall short. Albert Pujols was the lone bright spot, as he not only had the only Angels RBI(again), but he would also end up with another multi-hit game. His stellar level of play was still intact, even against a pitcher who was making the rest of his team look like rookies. The Angels would go on to get smoked 8-1 and, more importantly, they dropped a game in the standings to Houston. A couple notables for the game, once it got into blowout territory: we saw two MLB & Angels debuts. One for recent OF call-up Daniel Robertson, as well as Trevor Gott, whom the Angels acquired in the Huston Street deal. Gott is intriguing, as he’s managed to add some strong velocity to his fastball as of late, getting up in the 97mph range; in his debut, by the way, he got his first big league K and he went 1-2-3 in the ninth. Not bad at all!
The Angels are hovering just barely above .500, and are using the old One Step Forward, Two Steps Back approach to winning the division, but there is still plenty of time to gain some ground. Tomorrow they’ll start a series against another struggling team, the Diamondbacks, and look to get on the right side of the win column. Nothing else to do but Turn The Page.