A near-heroic effort by the Angels bullpen wasn’t enough to overcome a horrific start by Deck McGuire in a 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
McGuire retired one of seven batters in a three-run first inning before manager Mike Scioscia went to his bullpen. Relievers Taylor Cole, Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Blake Parker and Jim Johnson recorded 23 outs, allowing one run and four hits in 7 2/3 innings.
McGuire, starting in place of the injured Tyler Skaggs, gave up a single to Francisco Lindor to open the first. Michael Brantley walked, and Jose Ramirez crushed a three-run homer to right field, his 33rd homer of the season traveling 423 feet for a 3-0 lead.
“I threw a fastball down the middle,” McGuire said, “and a really good hitter put a good swing on it.”
Edwin Encarnacion was hit by a pitch and Yonder Alonso singled. McGuire struck out Melky Cabrera before hitting Jason Kipnis with a pitch to load the bases.
Cole replaced McGuire and retired Roberto Perez on a fielder’s choice grounder, third baseman Jefry Marte throwing home for the out. Leonys Martin popped out to shortstop and Cole blanked the Indians on one hit over the next three innings.
“I don’t think I did enough with the first seven hitters to show that I deserved to stay in the game,” McGuire said. “It’s tough to put the team in that spot, but I can’t say enough about the guys who came in after me. They put up a bunch of zeroes and the offense scrapped enough to give us a chance to win in the end.”
With Mike Trout unavailable because of a wrist injury and Justin Upton and Albert Pujols out of the lineup, the Angels outhit the Indians 11-7. But they went two for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Francisco Arcia and Kaleb Cowart struck out with runners on second and third to end the fourth. The Angels scored twice in the fifth on Jose Briceno’s single, Kole Calhoun’s RBI triple and Shohei Ohtani’s RBI single.
Kipnis’ RBI double off Bedrosian in the sixth pushed Cleveland’s lead to 4-2. The Angels loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Indians right-hander Cody Allen got Andrelton Simmons to pop out and David Fletcher to ground out.
Simmons’ RBI infield single off closer Brad Hand pulled the Angels to within 4-3 in the ninth, but Hand struck out Fletcher, ending the Angels’ 1-5 trip to Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
“I thought we hit the ball harder than they did,” Scioscia said, “but we couldn’t get that extra hit with guys in scoring position.”
No bueno for Valbuena
Struggling corner infielder Luis Valbuena was designated for assignment Sunday, ending to his two-year stint with the Angels.
The left-handed-hitting Valbuena, known for his periodic power and amusing bat flips, signed a two-year, $15-million deal in 2017 after Houston let him go.
He hit .199 with a .727 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 22 homers and 65 RBIs in 117 games last season but slipped to .199 with a .588 OPS, nine homers, 33 RBIs, 100 strikeouts and 19 walks in 96 games this season.
“Historically, he’s a very hot and cold hitter,” Scioscia said. “When he’s hot, he gets it going, when he’s cold, it’s not happening.”
Hitting coaches Eric Hinske and Paul Sorrento “tried to work on some swing things through spring training and the start of the season to help him get more consistency,” Scioscia added. “Unfortunately, that didn’t materialize.”
Trout sat out his fourth straight game because of a right wrist injury. He is able to throw but has been unable to swing a bat with enough strength to play in a game.