It was unprecedented and improbable, and now it's over. The Angels' two-game streak of impressive comeback victories ceased to exist Wednesday night, without so much as a hint at a revival. They fell 8-3 to Texas at Angel Stadium, unable to rebound from a poor Jesse Chavez start in his second outing as an Angel.
"Jesse got into some bad counts," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He just wasn't as effective as he was in his other outing."
Chavez began by throwing Carlos Gomez four consecutive fastballs, all outside, most a bit low. He cornered Shin-Soo Choo into a 1-and-2 count, and then induced a double-play groundout on a changeup at the outer edge. Nomar Mazara popped out to end the inning.
To begin the second, Mike Napoli smashed a 411-foot homer to right field. The next action happened quickly: Rougned Odor flied out on the first pitch he saw, Jonathan Lucroy flied out on the second and Elvis Andrus homered to left-center field, also on the first pitch.
Chavez cruised through the third and fourth innings, but issued a leadoff walk to Lucroy in the fifth. Andrus laced a ball that glanced off the glove of leaping second baseman Danny Espinosa and Joey Gallo tripled down the right-field line to drive in Lucroy and Andrus.
While left-hander Jose Alvarez warmed in the Angels bullpen, Jurickson Profar singled past C.J. Cron at first base to drive in Gallo. Pitching coach Charles Nagy visited the mound, and when Gomez flied out to center field, Scioscia pulled Chavez for Alvarez.
"Up until the last inning, it was fine," Chavez said. "The fifth inning kind of unraveled a little too soon, before I could even put a stop to it."
The left-handed Choo blooped a ball into left field and the Rangers had runners at the corners. After a groundout pushed Choo to second, Scioscia ordered an intentional walk of Napoli, and Alvarez struck out Odor.
Blake Parker struck out two Rangers in a scoreless sixth inning. Yusmeiro Petit threw the next two innings, yielding only a homer to Gomez in the seventh. Mike Morin struggled through the ninth to stretch Texas' lead to five runs for the Angels' last hacks.
In the Angels' first inning, Yunel Escobar drove a baseball deep to right field, where Mazara caught it. Kole Calhoun soon hit one where Mazara could not reach, but Calhoun never advanced past second, as Mike Trout and Albert Pujols struck out.
Andrelton Simmons began the second by working a walk, after he and Scioscia griped about a called strike on a baseball that appeared low and outside. Television cameras caught Scioscia yelling to plate umpire Stu Scheurwater that he had to call the same pitch a strike for the Angels.
Ben Revere followed with a double to left, and Cron and Espinosa each launched sacrifice flies to tie the score 2-2. In the third, Trout homered, and Pujols twice came within a few feet of homering. First was a drive down the left-field line that dove foul. Next was a 384-foot flyout to the warning track caught by Gomez.
After Jeremy Jeffress retired Escobar to begin the eighth, manager Jeff Banister called in left-hander Alex Claudio to face Calhoun, who promptly stroked a single down the left-field line — right where Texas' third baseman would have been, if not for the shift. Out went Claudio and in came rookie right-hander Jose Leclerc, who struck out Trout on three pitches and induced a harmless first-pitch popup from Pujols.
On Sunday and Tuesday, the Angels became the first team in 26 years to win consecutive games when trailing by five or more runs in the seventh inning or later. On Wednesday, they did not trail by five until the ninth, and they could not come back from that.
The streak is over. Now, they are a 6-3 team with an encouraging offense and a worrisome starting rotation so far incapable of lasting success.
The Angels' starters are averaging just greater than five innings per outing. Only one team's starters have pitched less on average: the New York Yankees'.
"It's important," Scioscia said. "There's no doubt it's important."