It was like a death by a thousand paper cuts for Tyler Skaggs, who couldn’t find an escape hatch to a fourth inning that seemed like it would never end Tuesday night.
The Angels left-hander gave up seven of his 10 runs and four of his eight hits in the frame, digging a hole too deep for his plucky offense to climb out of in a 10-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field.
Two of the hits in the decisive inning were singles that didn’t leave the infield. Skaggs walked two, one with the bases loaded, and hit a batter with the bases loaded with his 33rd pitch of the inning — and last of the game.
All three of reliever Noe Ramirez’s inherited runners scored, leaving Skaggs with a career-worst line: 3 1/3 innings, eight hits, 10 earned runs, three walks, three strikeouts.
“It kind of spiraled out of control,” said Skaggs, whose previous high for earned runs allowed in a game was seven. “Baseball is a humbling game. My last game, all I could do was strike people out. This time, all I could do was give up runs.”
Skaggs entered Tuesday with an 8-6 record and 2.62 ERA in 19 starts. He’d been dominant since early June, compiling a 1.44 ERA and allowing one earned run or fewer — and no homers — in seven of his last eight starts.
His ERA jumped to 3.34 after Tuesday night’s debacle. Skaggs hung a first-pitch curve that Jake Bauers belted for a solo homer in the second. Mallex Smith doubled and Kevin Kiermaier tripled in a two-run third.
Mike Trout doubled and scored on Albert Pujols’ single in the fourth, but things unraveled for Skaggs in the bottom of an inning in which the Rays sent 12 batters to the plate.
Carlos Gomez singled with one out and scored on Michael Perez’s double to right. Willy Adames walked, and Smith reached on an infield single to load the bases. Kiermaier walked to force in a run, Matt Duffy hit an RBI infield single, and Daniel Robertson was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run. Ramirez gave up an RBI single to C.J. Cron and a two-run single to Gomez that pushed the lead to 10-1.
“I got behind, and when I did get ahead, I threw a lot of pitches over the middle,” Skaggs said. “They’re an aggressive team. They swing early. … I didn’t really give our team a chance to win, and it stinks.”
The Angels mounted a spirited comeback, scoring twice in the fifth on Kole Calhoun’s two-run homer, his 13th of the season, and twice in the sixth on a Pujols double, David Fletcher single and RBI singles by Jose Briceno and Calhoun.
Trout’s 30th homer of the season, a 427-foot solo shot that hit the C-ring catwalk above center field, pulled the Angels to within 10-6 in the seventh, but pinch-hitter Francisco Arcia, the rookie catcher who had a major league-record 10 RBIs in his first two games last week, struck out with two on to end the inning.
The Angels threatened again in the eighth when Calhoun walked with one out and Shohei Ohtani singled to center off Jose Alvarado, but the left-hander struck out Trout looking at a curve and Justin Upton flied out to center.
“We could have easily folded after the first couple of innings,” said Trout, who joined Willie Mays as the only players with three 30-homer, 20-stolen-base seasons by their age-26 season or younger. “But we kept battling, we had great at-bats and just fell short.”