Last week in Cleveland, Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs allowed the Indians to steal seven bases in a five-inning start, a nearly unprecedented performance he termed embarrassing and vowed to fix.
It was a matter of importance to the organization. Manager Mike Scioscia promised it would be immediately addressed. Asked if it had been fixed Wednesday afternoon, before Skaggs’ follow-up start against Seattle, Scioscia described the solution as simple and himself as confident the 25-year-old would “do a better job of it.”
“It’s just experience,” Scioscia said. “Sometimes a blessing comes out of when you have a day like he did in Cleveland.”
Scioscia said he and his staff had recognized that Skaggs’ difficulties condensing his delivery could cause challenges. His two-year recovery from Tommy John surgery, he said, simply took precedence over more minor aspects.
But now that the problem has presented itself, Scioscia said it should not again. “In fact,” he said Wednesday, “I know it won’t be an issue. It’ll be a quick fix.”
Scioscia was right in that it was indeed not the primary issue in Skaggs’ rough outing. The Mariners stole a base easily, but he had bigger complications in the Angels’ 4-3 loss at Angel Stadium. Continuing the struggle evident in his recent starts, he lost the feel for his curveball early and had trouble with his fastball command over 31/3 innings.
“It could’ve been a lot worse, to tell you the truth,” Skaggs said.
He began by striking out Franklin Gutierrez and Robinson Cano in the first inning, going away from his fastball only twice in 13 pitches.
But he needed 41 pitches to get through the second inning, which he initiated by walking Nelson Cruz. Kyle Seager soon singled to right, and Skaggs hit Dae-Ho Lee to load the bases without one out. Ex-Angel Chris Iannetta stepped up next.
He ripped a changeup to third base, where it slipped either under or around Yunel Escobar’s glove to bring in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leonys Martin hit a sacrifice fly for a second run before Skaggs escaped.
The Mariners scored two more runs in the fourth inning. With Iannetta on third base and Martin on first, Martin easily stole second base. Ketel Marte’s sacrifice fly scored Iannetta. Shawn O’Malley then bunted himself aboard and Martin scampered home when Jefry Marte threw errantly from first.
That marked the end of Skaggs’ night, his third straight subpar start after two scoreless outings to resume his major league career.
The bases still loaded, the Angels still without an out, Marte flied out to center. Calhoun scored, but Pujols unsuccessfully tried to take second, hampering attempts to continue the rally.
The Angels loaded the bases with one out in the fifth. Seattle called in reliever Drew Storen, who struck out Trout and induced a flyout from Pujols.
With two men on and two out in the seventh, Trout struck out on Arquimedes Caminero’s third consecutive 100-mph fastball.
The Angels (50-70) then rallied to put the winning run on second with one out in the ninth against Mariners closer Edwin Diaz.
Diaz threw Marte only sliders and struck him out swinging on three pitches. As the last gasp, Andrelton Simmons smashed a ball down the third-base line. For a moment, it appeared the Angels would win, but Seager speared it, jumped up and bounced a throw to first one step ahead of Simmons.
“He showed up big for them tonight,” Scioscia said.