On one side of the clubhouse, Jered Weaver shot a bemused glance at Brendan Ryan, who was surrounded by reporters after a game in which he did not play. On another side, Hector Santiago glared at the question of whether he might be pitching injured.
The question was uncomfortable, and not just coming from a reporter. Santiago said he had heard it from Manager Mike Scioscia after his poor outing Wednesday.
“Nothing is wrong with my health,” Santiago said. “That’s been a question three or four times already. It’s kind of getting annoying.”
The Angels’ 15-9 loss to the Texas Rangers could have ended on a lighter note. In his 17 years as Angels manager, Scioscia never has used a position player to pitch.
In the seventh inning, with the Angels down seven runs and their bullpen exhausted, Scioscia asked Ryan, the veteran shortstop, if he ever had pitched.
Ryan said yes.
“He didn’t ask what my stats were,” Ryan said. “I would have been happy to share them.”
Ryan has pitched once, two scoreless innings last year for the New York Yankees. So he headed to the Angels bullpen and warmed up.
If the Angels had not scored in the eighth inning, Ryan would have become the first position player to pitch for the Angels since 1993, when Chili Davis threw two scoreless innings.
But the Angels scored three runs in the eighth, so reliever Jose Alvarez remained in the game and gave up two runs in the bottom of the inning. The Angels gave up a season-high 15 runs, and there would be no lighter side.
There certainly was no lighter side to Scioscia’s face when the Angels came off the field after the sixth inning. The Rangers batted around in the inning, which included a bases-loaded walk by Greg Mahle, a bobble and a bad throw on the same ground ball by first baseman C.J. Cron, and an error by left fielder Rafael Ortega, who could not commit to throwing to second base or third and ended up launching a throw that skipped by the catcher.
“Sloppy,” Scioscia said. “It’s an inning that just got away from us.”
Santiago did not survive the third inning, even though the Angels gave him a 4-1 lead in the second inning. Scioscia said he could not explain Santiago’s struggles.
“He just wasn’t aggressive with anything,” Scioscia said. “He really didn’t have his stuff. I talked to him after the game to make sure he was healthy. He said he was fine.”
Oh, and Rangers rookie Nomar Mazara hit a home run estimated at 491 feet, the longest in the major leagues this year. The Angels used five pitchers, all of whom were scored upon. They tied a season high with 15 hits, none by Mike Trout or Albert Pujols, and still lost by six runs.
The time seemed ripe for a team meeting after the game. Scioscia did not do so.
“Let me tell you one thing about these guys,” he said. “They feel it. They’re playing hard. No matter what we’ve been presented with, they’ve been finding ways to give us chances to win games.
“This one was a little sloppy. These guys know it. They feel it. They’ve been fine.”
Ryan said he felt fine in the bullpen, even though he did not get to pitch.
“Cutter was moving,” he said. “Changeup was working. I got the King Felix grip. He taught me.”
If he had pitched, the Angels could have managed a small smile on the way to the airport.
“You hope that, if it does unfortunately come to that,” Ryan said, “it sucks to get your butt kicked, but maybe we can have a laugh about this on the plane ride. You don’t want to be out there laughing and giggling and having a ball. I think that’s a slap in your face to your teammates.”
And then Ryan realized the statistics that Scioscia had not asked about had remained intact.
“I survived today with a 0.00 ERA,” Ryan said. “I’ll take that. I can say that because it’s ridiculous.”