In Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium, Angels rookie pitcher Griffin Canning drew the short straw.
Canning, the team’s top-ranked pitching prospect who more often than not has provided a strong start since debuting to fanfare on April 30, took on the Athletics for the second time. He’d faced them his previous time on the mound, holding them last week to one run on three hits over six innings in a start veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy said was the 22-year-old’s best to date.
Canning fell short of replicating that success. Although he limited damage and never allowed a sustained rally, the Athletics scattered seven hits over Canning’s six innings. They assembled a two-run third inning, punctuated by Angels nemesis Khris Davis’ RBI double. Ramon Laureano in the sixth inning cushioned Oakland’s lead, knocking a two-run homer 403 feet to left field.
In the process, Canning struggled for a second straight start to get ahead of hitters. He threw first-pitch balls to 13 of the 27 batters he faced.
“That’s kind of been happening the last three weeks,” Canning said. “Just not enough pitches for strikes, falling behind guys and obviously getting myself into bad counts.”
But this time the Angels, who fell to 29-32, couldn’t back up Canning’s performance.
The Angels, who put up 23 runs in a three-game series in Oakland last week, were silenced for five innings before Shohei Ohtani jumped on a first-pitch fastball from starter Frankie Montas in the sixth inning. Ohtani slashed a towering 388-foot home run over the center-field fence for two runs after Mike Trout battled through a 13-pitch plate appearance only to get hit by a pitch in the arm.
The Angels mustered little else. When they put runners in scoring position with two outs in the eighth, Lucroy flew out to end the threat.
In all, the Angels stranded five runners and were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.
Laureano’s blast off Canning’s center-cut hanging curveball provided the difference.
“Not every outing is going to be hitless through three and scoreless through five,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
“These are big leaguers on the other side and they get paid a lot of money to hit Griffin Canning. But he does a good job of limiting damage and getting swings-and-misses.”