Tim Lincecum put the Angels in a hole with a four-run, six-hit second inning Thursday night, but that’s nothing compared to the massive crater the Angels have dug for themselves this season.
A 5-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics dropped the Angels 16 games behind Texas in the American League West, their largest June deficit since 2001, when they fell 20 games behind a Seattle team that won 116 games.
“These guys are not dwelling on where we’ve been,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “They understand that we need to play better baseball. They’re focused on playing a good game tomorrow. That’s the mind-set in there, and anything else becomes a distraction.
“They prepare for the game as well as any club I’ve ever seen. They don’t use excuses. There’s nobody in that room looking around at some of the guys who aren’t there. They know what’s left in that room is still a good team, and we will play better.”
The Angels are at least showing some fight. They rallied in the ninth inning when Johnny Giavotella doubled and Jett Bandy hit a two-run homer off Sean Doolittle to cut the deficit to 5-4. Andrelton Simmons popped out to first for the second out.
Pinch-hitter Jefry Marte swung through Doolittle’s first pitch and lost control of his bat, which struck home plate umpire Paul Emmel on the top of the head. Emmel began bleeding profusely, left the game and was taken to a hospital for stitches, with third base umpire Quinn Wolcott taking over behind the plate.
Marte popped out to second on the next pitch to end the game, the Angels falling to 31-42 on the season and 7-14 in June.
“We just can’t seem to play a complete game,” Gia-votella said. “We pitch well and don’t put any runs on the board. We put runs on the board, and we don’t pitch well. We have to play better defense. When we start figuring things out, start playing as a team and putting everything together, we will be really good. But until then, we can’t get discouraged.”
The right-hander said a mechanical problem with his shoulder caused his pitches to flatten out. He also became too one-dimensional in his approach, stubbornly sticking to a fastball-changeup combination and ignoring his slider and curve.
Jed Lowrie and Yonder Alonso singled to open the second, and Marcus Semien golfed a knee-high changeup over the left-field wall for a three-run homer. Coco Crisp and Max Muncy singled with one out, and Stephen Vogt lifted a popup to shallow left.
Third baseman Yunel Escobar got turned around while pursuing the ball, which hit his left forearm and fell for an error, allowing Crisp to score for a 4-0 lead.
“There’s no doubt that Tim wasn’t quite as sharp,” Scioscia said. “He had to work for every strike, and 83 pitches in three innings … that’s a lot.”
Oakland made it 5-2 in the fifth on Khris Davis’ 17th homer. Kendall Graveman gave up two runs and eight hits in 62/3 innings to snap the A’s 17-game streak without a win from a starting pitcher, the second-longest in Oakland history.