If you had to choose a two-inning sample that is emblematic of the way things have gone for the Angels this season, the last two innings of Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays would be a good choice.
Leading by three runs with five outs to go, the Angels saw two infielders throw away potential double-play balls, lost another out on a blown call by an umpire and used six pitchers to try to protect a lead at Angel Stadium.
They didn’t quite make it, with two-out singles by Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the top of the ninth sending the Angels to their 10th loss in 15 games, dropping them to fourth place in the American League West and 101/2 games back in a wild-card race they’ve never really joined.
“We got the plays and we just didn’t make them,” Manager Mike Scioscia conceded. “Uncharacteristically for our club, we’ve lost more games on defense this year than I can remember.
“You have to make the plays when they’re presented to you. And historically our guys have been terrific at it.”
Not anymore. With three errors Sunday, the Angels lead the league with 83 — many of them coming at crucial times.
In the third inning Sunday, throwing errors by third baseman Chris Nelson and first baseman Mark Trumbo turned what could have been an easy inning into a two-run Toronto rally. Nelson and Trumbo made poor throws again in the eighth, turning two potential double-play balls into two more Toronto runs.
“You have to play all 27 outs,” said left-hander C.J. Wilson, who gave the Angels 71/3 strong innings, striking out seven, but had nothing to show for it.
“We gave them a couple of extra chances today with the defensive stuff. And then there’s the play at second base where we thought we had the guy out.”
That too was an error, although it will be charged to second base umpire Brian Knight.
A three-run home run from Trumbo and a first-inning solo shot from Mike Trout sent the Angels to the ninth inning with a one-run lead, when closer Ernesto Frieri (0-4) gave up a leadoff single to Brent Lawrie, then hit J.P. Arencibia with a pitch. With the next batter, Jose Reyes, down 0-2, Angels catcher Chris Iannetta threw to second, catching Lawrie off the bag.
In the ensuing rundown, Lawrie tried to scramble back to second, only to have shortstop Erick Aybar tag him on the shoulder as he dived for the bag. At least that’s what the replays showed. Knight saw it differently, calling Lawrie safe.
“He was out,” Wilson said. “It was a really pivotal play in the game, obviously.”
Pivotal because when Reyes flied out and Rajai Davis followed by grounding into a force play, the game should have been over. Instead, the Blue Jays had one more out to work with and they made good use of it, with Bautista and Encarnacion delivering run-scoring singles against reliever Dane De La Rosa, giving the bullpen five blown saves in the last nine games.
“We didn’t do enough things well. We didn’t get outs on a couple plays we should have,” Scioscia said. “I don’t think you’re going to hang your hat on one call. You have to play at a high enough level to absorb that call and move on.
“And we didn’t do it this afternoon.”