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Angels fall to Tampa Bay, splitting series

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The team loses the game that could have gone either way.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Rays 6, Angels 5

It’s important to preface this with the fact that the Angels just played the Dodgers and the Rays for six and won four of them. All the while getting some disastrous bullpen performances, short starts, and unclutch hitting. This is a fairly impressive result.

Wilfredo Tovar has been with the team nine games, starting every single one of them. When he reaches base twice or garners two bases, the Angels lose. Without fail. When he doesn’t, they win. His success singlehandedly determines the outcome of that day’s game, and I will accept no other explanation. There is 100% correlation.

Sunday afternoon, Tovar doubled in the second inning. One felt a little twinge, maybe something uncomfortable, that meant that the Angels were going to fall that day. Or maybe the curse would be broken.

Against the opener, Ryne Stanek, the Angels could only manage one run even though they loaded the bases with no outs. César Puello grounded into a double play to kill that rally. The Rays responded with a Brandon Lowe solo shot. Then they took the lead in the second when Kevin Kiermaier tripled in Yandy Diaz and scored on a sacrifice fly a batter later.

All these runs came off Griffin Canning, who was surprisingly sharp for his line. He garnered sixteen swings-and-misses, painting the corners, just barely missing off the edge when he was. These kinds of starts happen, when you pitch well and don’t get the results. The Rays are good, with effectively five hitters in the lineup with OPS’s above .850. The Angels have two, not counting César Puello’s small sample size.

The Angels also added some solid defense. Tovar made a nice diving stop, and Brian Goodwin threw out a runner at the plate:

David Fletcher knocked in a pair of runs, and the Angels were tied 3-3 until Canning missed location to Tommy Pham and gave up another homer.

Taylor Cole entered the game to keep it a one-run deficit, but he got a little unlucky and allowed two runs to score.

In the questionable move (non-move?) of the game, with two on and one out in the top of the eighth, Brad Ausmus allowed Jonathan Lucroy to hit, and he promptly banged into an inning-ending double play. Lucroy went 0-4 and is now hitting .230.

Mike Trout hit a home run in the ninth (a clutch one, if you will), drawing the Angels to within one, but they failed to capitalize when Kole Calhoun struck out looking to end the game.

4-2 on the week. The Angels remain 5-3 in their last 8. Justin Upton is returning tomorrow. Andrelton Simmons will follow shortly. The Angels may not have gotten to .500 today, but there is strong evidence that they will be able to very soon.