Angels’ rookie has wild debut
Just think of Thursday night’s game like a home run ball hit by a visitor into the Wrigley Field bleachers, and you get an idea of what the Angels and pitcher Nick Adenhart would like to do with it:
Throw it back.
Adenhart’s much-anticipated major league debut deteriorated into a walk on the wild side, setting the tone for the Angels’ most unsightly game of the season, a 15-8 loss to the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium.
Adenhart, the team’s top pitching prospect, didn’t make it out of the third inning, giving up five runs, three hits and five walks, and the A’s pummeled relievers Dustin Moseley and Darren O’Day for eight runs and eight hits in the fifth.
The A’s amassed 20 hits, four each by Emil Brown and Jack Cust, to earn a split of the four-game series, book-ending a pair of routs -- they won, 14-2, Monday -- around crisp pitching efforts by the Angels’ Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana.
Adenhart, starting on three days’ rest for the first time in his career, hoped to carry that pitching momentum into Thursday, and he looked sharp in the first, retiring the side in order on 12 pitches.
But it all crumbled in the second, when the right-hander gave up a one-out single to Brown, walked the next four batters -- missing the strike zone by several feet with some pitches -- and gave up a two-run single to Kurt Suzuki to put the Angels in a 4-0 hole.
“There was not much feel out there,” said Adenhart, 21. “I was a little numb. I didn’t know how to make adjustments pitch to pitch. . . . I think it snowballed on me. You walk a guy, you start thinking too much, you try to do too much . . . I let myself get overwhelmed.”
That Adenhart struggled with his control was not a shock. Though he went 4-0 with an 0.87 earned-run average in five starts for triple-A Salt Lake, Adenhart walked 15 batters in 31 innings.
But Manager Mike Scioscia saw enough to give Adenhart at least one more start, Tuesday night in Kansas City.
“It’s not uncommon for a kid in his first start to try to do too much,” Scioscia said. “He has a great arm, great stuff; we’ll see him pitch better. It was one of those nights.”
The kind that could shatter a kid’s confidence?
“Any time you don’t achieve, there’s a chance your confidence will take a hit, but he knows he’s better than he was tonight,” Scioscia said. “He trusts his arm. He knows he can pitch.”
Scioscia didn’t think pitching on short rest was an issue.
“Nick threw some nice breaking balls in the first but didn’t have enough command to give himself a chance,” Scioscia said. “He didn’t establish his changeup. He didn’t get his fastball into good zones.”
Moseley and O’Day weren’t much better.
The Angels scored five runs in the bottom of the second, all unearned after Cust, the A’s left fielder, flubbed Garret Anderson’s routine two-out fly ball.
Mike Napoli’s RBI single and Erick Aybar’s three-run homer tied the score, 4-4. Chone Figgins singled, stole second and scored on a Gary Matthews Jr. single.
But Adenhart walked Frank Thomas and gave up a single to Brown in the third and was replaced by Moseley, who was rocked for five runs and seven hits in two innings. O’Day was charged with four runs and four hits in 2/3 of an inning.
Napoli tied the score, 6-6, with a homer in the fourth, giving the Angels catcher his American League-tying seventh homer of the season. Of Napoli’s 14 hits, seven are home runs.
But the A’s blew the game open in the fifth, sending 13 batters to the plate and taking a 14-6 lead. The highlights: Cust’s homer, and two-run singles by Thomas and Bobby Crosby.
Afterward, the Angels sent infielder Matt Brown, whose two-run double in the ninth was his first big league hit, back to Salt Lake and recalled outfielder Reggie Willits, whom Scioscia hinted could replace the struggling Matthews (.229) in the second spot.
Adenhart, meanwhile, found motivation in the wake of the loss.
“You always want to prove yourself to your teammates, your manager, your coaches,” he said. “I need to redeem myself now.”