Today’s game against the Nationals was the first of two games in D.C., before the Angels head on over to Baltimore for a series against the Orioles. What a nice little east coast jaunt for the fellas, eh? Too bad the Angels got smacked around by none other than Howie Kendrick, leading to the end of their 6-game winning streak and a showing us a hell of a wimpy way to follow up this past weekend’s hype-filled, Wild Card weekend in Seattle.
Seriously, this is about as much of a let-down game as they get, with the Halos not really finding their offensive stride against Washington, no matter how hard they tried (save for Cliff Pennington, at least). Yet, they didn’t get totally blown out of the stadium; the Angels were within reach of this game through every inning and in the end, the 3-1 loss was a downer, but an acceptable downer...if that makes sense.
See, the Nationals are currently a first-place team, with 71 wins in the 2017 MLB season thus far. They are no cakewalk by any means, and the Nats only compounded things by having Gio Gonzalez on the mound; Gonzalez already had 10 wins on the year, and a sub-3.00 ERA, so it was one of those games were our boys were going to have to bring their A game, no room for errors.
Tyler Skaggs was the Angels’ starting arm today, and he did admirably in his 5.0 innings pitched, striking out six over that stretch and giving up seven hits in the process. There was one big thorn in his side, however, and it was a familiar, friendly thorn by the name of Howie Kendrick. Remember Howie?! Well, Howie hit two bombs off of Skaggs this afternoon, proving once again that it’s always scary to face ex-Angels players, considering they seem to enjoy putting the screws to their old team and their old skipper, Mike Scioscia.
Kendrick hitting two homers were responsible for the only two runs that Skaggs gave up in his time on the bump, which, again, would be fairly manageable if they could have faced someone other than Gonzalez, perhaps. Instead, they struggled to do much against Washington, getting only TWO hits off of Gonzalez in the 6.0 IP they faced him, and then, when facing three different Nats relievers, they got a grand total of one hit in innings seven, eight and nine.
That’s THREE hits total, if you’re counting at home. The Angels just aren’t going to win very many games when they’re only getting three hits total, but hey! They came pretty close this afternoon....if only Howie Kendrick didn’t turn into vintage Albert Pujols, this would have been a squeaker. The only other run the Nationals could scrape together in this matchup was off of a fielding error in the sixth, so Kendrick is the man we need to direct all of our ire towards (but it’s Howie Kendrick, how can we be mad at him?!)
The lone run the Halos put on the board was off of a Cliff Pennington homer, in the eighth inning, and by then it was 3-1 Nationals and there was no inkling that the Angels were going to be able to pull off some magical comeback in this one. The spirit wasn’t there. Maybe it was the day off, maybe it was just a low-energy day, or maybe they just faced a pretty good team and a pretty good pitcher, and walking away with a 3-1 loss, in this particular fashion, is not ideal but it’s also nothing close to a gut punch.
They’ll be back in high gear by the time they get to Baltimore, I aint trippin’.