The polls had long since closed by the time John Lackey took the mound Saturday.
Good thing. If he is not selected to the All-Star team today, he’ll have the small comfort of knowing his defense did not do him in.
He did not pitch too well, the defense behind him was abominable, and the combination doomed the Angels in a 7-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium.
While fans vote for the starting position players in the All-Star game, players vote for pitchers and reserves. Lackey could be a longshot, with Joe Saunders leading the American League in victories, Francisco Rodriguez leading the league in saves and Ervin Santana enjoying a breakout season.
“It depends on how you vote, I guess,” Lackey said. “It depends on whether I get punished for missing time.”
Lackey sat out the first six weeks of the season because of a strained muscle in his right arm, but he was the league’s pitcher of the month in June. Even after he lost Saturday, giving up six runs -- five earned -- in the process, his earned-run average stood at 1.93.
He got help from his offense -- Vladimir Guerrero homered, doubled and drove in three runs, and Chone Figgins had three hits to end a two-for-25 skid -- but not from his defense. The Angels started play Saturday with the fewest errors of any major league team except the Cleveland Indians, but they tied a season high by committing four errors.
In the first inning, left fielder Gary Matthews Jr. let a single skip by him for an error that enabled a runner to take second base. In the third inning, third baseman Figgins tried to field a ground ball to the side rather than in front of him, but he missed it for an error.
In the fifth inning, first baseman Casey Kotchman simply missed the base while catching a throw, the Angels’ third error. In the seventh, catcher Mike Napoli overthrew third base for an error -- and, later in the inning, committed a passed ball.
And, in the third inning, shortstop Maicer Izturis dropped a ground ball on what was scored as an infield single.
“We didn’t play real well behind John,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen him, but he pitched better than his line score is going to show.”
Lackey (6-2) worked six innings, giving up seven hits and one walk, and striking out seven. The six runs and five earned runs matched his totals for his five June starts.
Lackey did not call out his teammates, just himself. The Blue Jays took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, in which the Angels failed to make two plays behind Lackey and forced him to make 27 pitches, but Guerrero homered in the fourth to close the deficit to 3-2.
The Blue Jays got those runs right back, on a two-out, two-run homer by Vernon Wells in the fifth inning.
“I didn’t manage the situation very well,” Lackey said. “I had a base open. I shouldn’t have given up a base hit there, much less a homer.”
Toronto ace Roy Halladay earned the victory by holding the Angels to two runs over seven innings, although the Angels scored twice and got the tying run to the plate twice in the ninth inning against closer B.J. Ryan.
Halladay (10-6, 2.88) could make his fifth All-Star roster today. For Lackey, and a few other Angels too, it’s wait and see.