With two out in the second inning Thursday at Minute Maid Park, Angels second baseman Danny Espinosa stepped to the plate with a runner on first base. He struck out swinging.
His day went that way. With two out in the seventh, he batted with runners at first and second. He struck out swinging.
With two out in the ninth, Espinosa batted with runners at second and third. A single surely would have tied the score and probably would have given the Angels the lead. Again, he struck out swinging.
After the game, he stewed at his locker for a long time and declined to speak to reporters.
“Not today,” he said.
His rough game stretched his strikeout total to 26, with one walk. He is tied for the major league lead in strikeouts among qualified hitters, only two of whom have draw fewer walks.
Espinosa has long been a high-strikeout hitter. He led the National League with 189 in 2012 and last season struck out 174 times in 601 plate appearances.
While his teammates do not share that reputation, they have performed like they do. The 2017 Angels have so far struck out 140 times, fourth-most in the majors, and are on pace for 1,334.
The 2016 Angels struck out only 991 times, by far the fewest in the majors. It was a core feature of Billy Eppler’s first roster as a general manager.
But this the Angels did not expect, and they don’t expect it to continue.
“The guys that we know are going to put the ball in play are there, and I think as a team we’ll put the ball in play,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Some guys that are driving the ball, if they’re not in sync, there’s some strikeouts that are popping up. But that’s not the issue.”
The Angels did not hold mandatory batting practice for the third consecutive day. After they were shut out in consecutive games, they scrapped it Tuesday. Some players did take part in an optional session before Thursday’s game. … Ex-Angels right-hander Mat Latos will face his former team Friday in his first start of the season for the Toronto Blue Jays. Right-hander Alex Meyer will make his first start of the season for the Angels. … The Angels must make a roster move when they officially call up Meyer. If it’s a decision to demote a reliever, as expected, only left-hander Jose Alvarez and right-hander Mike Morin can be sent down without first being exposed on waivers. They retain options.