The gesture fit the Angels’ effort in a 3-0 loss to the Mets on Friday evening as well as the batted ball that would seal their demise.
Down two runs in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, Ben Revere fought a fastball inside toward the green not far past second base. It looped and spun, and Reyes gave chase.
When Reyes reached up the first time, his glove flipped the ball up as a chef flips an omelet. Then he recovered and scooped underneath to secure the catch.
The bobble and catch neutralized the Angels’ only threat in an inning when they’d loaded the bases with no outs, their best scoring chance of the evening against the Mets’ slumbering star Jacob deGrom. DeGrom struck out nine in seven innings.
“All night, we didn’t get too many good looks at him,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “When we did get a couple good looks he made some pitches and got out of it.”
The loss ended the Angels’ four-game winning streak. The Mets, losers of seven straight, dropped the Angels to .500, at 22-22.
The lineup had been shut out only two other times, but the Angels never awoke on Friday. A few innings into the game, Mike Trout noticed the air conditioning vents in the Angels’ dugout had gone quiet. It was a warm and sticky evening, and sweat was starting to drip from the Angels hitters.
“I was like, ‘Dude, turn it on!’ ” Trout said across the clubhouse after the game, in the direction of the Angels’ starting pitcher, Ricky Nolasco.
“I figured you wanted it to stay warmed up,” Trout said.
In fact, Nolasco did stay loose and comfortable. It was the Angels’ bats, despite the lack of air conditioning, that went cold. They managed only six hits. Trout had two of them, and reached a third time on a walk.
Nolasco was effective in six innings of labor. He struck out four and gave up two runs, though the first was unearned and the second a bit unorthodox.
The first batter of the bottom of the first, Michael Conforto, caught left fielder Cameron Maybin in between on a line drive, a catchable, though difficult, ball. The play was ruled a single. Reyes sacrifice bunted to move him over, but C.J. Cron’s foot missed first base. Curtis Granderson punished the mistake with a two-out single.
“We didn’t help him much in the first,” Scioscia said.
Scioscia said Conforto’s single “was close. It was not an easy play. The ball was slicing, it was low. That would not have been an easy play.”
“C.J. not putting his foot on the bag?” he continued. “Yeah.”
The Mets scored their second run in the sixth when Neil Walker pounced on a fly ball to deep left-center for a rare tag up to second base, then scored on another two-out hit.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler made defense a priority in the offseason. Scioscia once predicted that this would be his best defensive team. Through more than a quarter of the season, though, the defense has been only slightly better than average.
That’s evidenced by newer advanced metrics, like defensive runs saved (12th in the major leagues) and ultimate zone rating (14th). The traditional stats tell the same story: The Angels rank 13th in fielding percentage.
Still, the pitching kept the Angels within striking distance.
“We had our chance,” Trout said. “We just couldn’t get the big hit.”