The Angels haven't scored a run since last week. In the 20 innings they've batted since Saturday's seventh inning in Kansas City, they have generated only seven singles. In their last 46 innings, they have mustered two extra-base hits. And, accordingly, in their last six games, the Angels don't have a victory.
A 3-0 loss to Houston at Minute Maid Park on Monday was the latest loss in the string, and the shortest, at 2 hours 37 minutes, lacking in late suspense.
"It's not ideal," first baseman C.J. Cron said. "We haven't been hitting like we should, like we know we can."
After a weekend series sweep by the Royals, this defeat began more favorably. Mike Trout got a two-out single to left field in the first inning, then took second base on a missed pickoff throw. Kole Calhoun was hit by a Charlie Morton pitch to summon Cron to the plate. He lined out to center field.
Then, with two outs in the second, Danny Espinosa bunted, sprinted down the first base line, and slid into the base to avoid Morton's tag. Martin Maldonado soon singled and Espinosa took third. Yunel Escobar walked to load the bases for the Angels' No. 2 hitter, Ben Revere. He flied out while Trout waited on deck as the inning ended.
Revere is the least powerful hitter in the major leagues, and he owns a career .319 on-base percentage. But, in recent days, manager Mike Scioscia has hit him second, believing him to be a fit in front of Trout.
Of course, Trout led off the third with a single and stole second when Calhoun struck out looking on a 3-and-2 fastball. Cron reached on catcher's interference, Andrelton Simmons replaced him on a fielder's choice groundout, and Jefry Marte lined out to quell the threat. In the fifth, Trout worked a one-out walk and third baseman Marwin Gonzalez flubbed Calhoun's potential double-play ball. That put two men on for Cron, who, again, lined out to center. The baseball traveled 108 mph off his bat.
The Angels lineup managed only five singles and two walks against Morton and three relievers. The middle of their order was without Albert Pujols, who had agreed with Scioscia to rest Monday.
"I think we had a bunch of good at-bats, at times, and then a couple that obviously we didn't get it done in," Scioscia said. "I thought we hit the ball hard a couple times with guys in scoring position. We worked some counts, had [Morton's] pitch count up. We just left a lot of guys on base early in the game."
After a scoreless first inning, starter Jesse Chavez yielded back-to-back singles in the second. Escobar threw away the first single, which pushed Evan Gattis to second base. Gattis scored on Alex Bregman's single but catcher Maldonado easily threw out Bregman trying to steal second. That proved valuable when Chavez issued consecutive walks to Gonzalez and Yulieski Gurriel.
Chavez gave up a run in the third on two singles and a sacrifice fly. He withstood further attacks for four more innings to turn in his second solid start in three tries. In the eighth inning, right-hander Yusmeiro Petit gave up a run on consecutive doubles. Espinosa threw out Jose Altuve trying to stretch a double into a triple to aid the Angels' attempts to escape the inning.
"I gave us a chance," Chavez said. "With our offense, they're capable of anything."
Not lately. A week ago, this team won consecutive games because of inconceivable comebacks in the ninth inning, pushing itself up to 6-2 on the season. Now 6-8, there was no rally awaiting their ninth inning this time.
"We had a couple crazy wins to start off. I don't know what that means," Cron said. "Obviously, we're not going to be able to do that every game. We came back to earth. But we know we have a great lineup and we know we're gonna get out of this."