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Angels let another one get away, swept by Astros, 3-2

Angels' Jett Bandy slides around the tag of Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro to score in the third inning on Wednesday.
(Bob Levey / Getty Images)

After another loss in spite of his own splendid start, Matt Shoemaker was left to lament how he handled the last few batters of his ballgame, a battle that did not have to be his.

“I just gotta find a way to get through that eighth,” Shoemaker said. “I just gotta find a way to get Gonzalez out with a better pitch.”

Shoemaker had already exhibited signs of fatigue before Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez crushed his 107th pitch to land the big blow in the Astros’ 3-2 win over the Angels on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia opted to leave him on the mound.

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“I’m sure I was getting tired,” Shoemaker said. “Physically speaking, it’s very natural. That happens deep in the game. I was different in the first and second inning, for sure, but that’s normal for everybody.”

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And now Shoemaker has made seven straight great starts, and the Angels have won two of them.

“He’s pitching extraordinary baseball,” Scioscia said. “We just haven’t given him run support.”

Afterward, Shoemaker attempted to cast his eyes beyond the game’s result.

“I’m in a good place,” he said. “I’m going to go out there the rest of this year — hopefully the rest of my career — and pitch like this.”

Shoemaker hit a man and walked a man in Wednesday’s first inning, then did not allow another baserunner until there were two outs in the fourth.

In the fifth inning, up by a run, he revealed his first clue to ebbing effectiveness. Throwing more pitches up in the zone, Shoemaker yielded a high drive to Carlos Gomez caught at the left-field porch, then a liner to the wall for a double by Jason Castro. Tony Kemp singled, and George Springer followed with a soft line drive to short. Smartly, Andrelton Simmons took a step back to let it drop an inch in front of his glove, then snagged it, stepped on second and threw to first to turn a clandestine double play, a play he said he had completed only once, many years ago back home in Curacao.

In the sixth inning, Shoemaker hung a 3-and-2 splitter and Jose Altuve punished his mistake, lifting it out to left field.

Then, Carlos Correa doubled to left, and Colby Rasmus ripped a liner the opposite way. Off first base, C.J. Cron snared it, threw to second to catch Correa off the base, and ended the inning. In the seventh, Shoemaker was sharper. He struck out Luis Valbuena and Castro and turned a bunt attempt from Gomez into an out, convincing Scioscia he was fit to handle the eighth.

There, he again struggled. Kemp singled, catcher Jeff Bandy picked him off, and Springer singled. Scioscia left his hurler in without a mound visit, and Gonzalez drove a ball more than 400 feet to straightaway center field, where Minute Maid Park contains a hill that will soon be removed; Shane Robinson ran up and into the wall in pursuit but could not secure it. The triple scored the go-ahead run.

Scioscia used the opportunity to support the wall’s removal. He said every major leaguer would say it’s a safety issue. Asked about that, Robinson laughed.

“I think having a wall out there is a safety issue, too,” he said. “It’s kind of a weird play altogether.”

Finally, after an intentional walk of Altuve, Scioscia removed Shoemaker for Cam Bedrosian, who induced a groundout from Correa. He beat out a double play by a step, allowing the third, crucial run to score.

Facing Will Harris in the ninth, Robinson singled with one out and stole second base. Yunel Escobar singled him to third, and Kole Calhoun singled him home. But Escobar did not decide if he’d try for third base until it was too late, and he was caught off the base for the second out of the inning.

“He just got hung up in no-man’s land,” Scioscia said.

The play was challenged, the call upheld, the Angels’ chances up to Mike Trout. After Calhoun riskily stole second, Trout ripped a 94-mph fastball to left field.

Clocked at 108 mph, the ball shot right to Rasmus for the game’s last out.

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pedro.moura@latimes.com

Twitter: @pedromoura


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