Nick Tropeano seemed perfectly capable of giving up runs on his own in the fifth inning Thursday night when the Angels right-hander started falling behind in counts and leaving balls up in the strike zone.
But Tropeano got plenty of help — much of it from his friends — during an ugly five-run rally that torpedoed the Angels in an 8-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
A bobble here, an overthrown cutoff man there, and an instant-replay review that turned a foul ball into a two-run double were among the lowlights for the Angels in the decisive inning.
"We did some things early that kept us in the game, and Nick made some good pitches … but things got away from him in the fifth," Manager Mike Scioscia said.
"He lost his fastball command a bit and struggled to put guys away. And on the defensive side, we added fuel to the fire with a couple things."
Tropeano allowed one run and two hits in the first four innings but unraveled in the fifth, giving up five runs and six hits.
With the score tied, 1-1, Adam LaRoche and Alexei Ramirez opened the inning with singles. First baseman C.J. Cron bobbled Geovany Soto's two-strike bunt and had no play because Tropeano, who ran to cover first, stopped short of the bag. Soto was given a hit.
Carlos Sanchez's run-scoring single to center gave the White Sox a 2-1 lead. Adam Eaton hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to left fielder Shane Victorino, who airmailed a throw home, well over the cutoff man, even though he "had no play," Scioscia said. That allowed both Soto and Sanchez to advance.
"We didn't help ourselves," Scioscia said.
Neither did the instant-replay process.
Tyler Saladino's RBI single made it 4-1. Jose Abreu, with runners on first and third, ripped a ball down the left-field line that was called foul but ruled fair after a replay review.
Umpires determined Saladino would have scored from first, giving Abreu a two-run double and Chicago a 6-1 lead.
"He was running with the pitch, and from where he was when the ball was hit, he was going to score," Scioscia said.
"I didn't take exception to that."
The one consolation for the Angels, who had their three-game winning streak snapped: Houston and Baltimore lost, allowing the Angels to remain 21/2 games behind the Astros in the American League West and a half-game ahead of the Orioles for the second wild-card spot.
With the White Sox in the rearview mirror, the Angels open a three-game series Friday night against the surging Toronto Blue Jays, who acquired ace David Price from Detroit and star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from Colorado before the July 31 trade deadline and are 13-3 since Aug. 2.
Price, who will oppose Angels left-hander Hector Santiago on Friday night, has already made an impact, going 2-0 with a 1.61 earned-run average in three starts for his new club, striking out 24 and walking five in 221/3 innings.
Tulowitzki? Not so much. He's batting .219 with three homers and eight RBIs in 19 games with the Blue Jays. But Toronto, which leads the AL wild-card race, is not hurting for offense. The Blue Jays lead the league in runs (634), on-base-plus-slugging (.768) and extra-base hits (399) and rank second in homers (162).
They have a most-valuable-player candidate in third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is hitting .293 with 33 homers and an AL-leading 91 RBIs, and two other right-handed sluggers in right fielder Jose Bautista (.236, 28 homers, 82 RBIs) and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (.255, 23 homers, 67 RBIs).
"Their lineup was tough the last time I faced them too," said Santiago, who allowed one earned run and four hits in seven innings of a 3-2 win in Toronto on May 19. "I just want to execute my pitches.
"I try to forget about who's up there, because if you take that into consideration, you worry about who they are. If I'm thinking, 'Oh no, Bautista is up,' it comes into your mind-set. I want to focus. If I'm trying to throw a heater away, throw a heater away."