Rays 9, Angels 4
**feels like Rays 20, Angels 0
You all know the story by now. Sisyphus is doomed by the gods to pushing a rock up a hill for eternity. When he finally reaches the top, the rock rolls all the way back down, rendering his work meaningless. Yet he is doomed, doomed by circumstance and his own choices, doomed to keep pushing that rock up the damned hill no matter what.
Sometimes it feels like that with the Angels. They haven’t reached the .500 mark since they were 8-8. Tonight was the 70th game of the season.
Blake Snell was on the hill for the Rays, and pretty much the Angels were doomed from the start. Reigning Cy Young winner. Nasty stuff. Elite fastball. Killer curve. Already banked three wins this week against the Dodgers and the Rays.
Yet tonight’s game was the most tantalizing yet. Snell didn’t have it. The Angels worked him for 53 pitches through two innings and scored in three of the first four innings to take a four-run lead. There were good at-bats, great takes, and pieces of hitting to die for.
It would not last. Andrew Heaney was on the bump, and he labored all throughout his outing. When he left in the sixth inning with the Angels leading 4-0, I remarked that it was probably the worst scoreless outing I had ever seen. (A baserunner charged to Heaney later scored.) Heaney wasn’t location, and the Rays were missing pitches in the upper-middle part of the zone, lifting lazy fly balls. Heaney walked three and struck out two, the first time this year he has tallied more walks than strikeouts. He didn’t have it. Hopefully he finds it.
Because Heaney didn’t have it, the bullpen needed to get 12 outs, soon turned into just 9 outs by their sheer incompetence. Luis García threw straight up batting practice, getting two outs while giving up three hits. Ty Buttrey came in and couldn’t locate any of his pitches. He allowed all of García’s inherited runners to score and left the game with the worst possible outcome for a reliever (BS, L). Going into the bottom of the seventh down one, it was all over when Cody Allen gave up four runs. The fact that the Angels still needed to get outs meant that Justin Anderson and Hansel Robles needed to be used as well.
It was a loss. But it wasn’t a loss in isolation. It was a loss after the Angels had a big lead. It was a loss in the middle of a promising road trip. Yet at the same time, it was the first loss in three games straight of the Angels getting outplayed and outhit. It was a loss against the reigning AL Cy Young, a loss that had probably been chalked up on the schedule from the very start of the game.
Perspectives are very important. We aren’t the worst team in baseball. We aren’t the best team in baseball. We’re a middle-of-the-pack team, just hoping for things to break right so we even have a chance at sniffing the postseason. So take that as you will. You can blame Ausmus. You can blame Eppler. You can blame García. You can blame any number of Angels with justifiable reasons. That doesn’t change the fact that this is the team we have, playing in the middle of a long season, and you’re choosing to spend your time following this amazing team with some of the best/most interesting players the world has ever seen. They’re fighting for wins. Always.
We only hope they get to .500 first.