Ty Buttrey is dependable, a 6-foot-6 titan who can hurl 99-mph heaters and strike out more than one-quarter of the batters he faces. The Angels rookie reliever gets the ball in tied scores or when the team has a small deficit.
But the 26-year-old also has made 48 appearances, tied for second-most on the team. And in the Angels’ 8-7 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday at Angel Stadium, he could not replicate his success. He failed to preserve an eighth-inning tie. The Angels mounted a late rally but could not overcome Buttrey’s performance as they dropped their third game in a row to a team on pace for more than 100 losses.
Buttrey gave up a leadoff hit to Jonathan Villar, plunked Stevie Wilkerson in the thigh to end a long at-bat, watched both runners advance on a dribbler to the mound and gave up a hard-hit single up the middle. The hit drove in two runs and knocked Buttrey out of the game before he could record a second out.
“The stuff looks the same,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Most players — pitchers and hitters — will have an occasional bad month or not an up-to-par month. I’m not concerned.”
Buttrey (6-5) gave up two runs in the eighth inning Thursday, the night the Angels lost to the Orioles in 16 innings and put themselves in a position to use spot starters in consecutive games. That time his stuff was flat, his pitches more passive than usual. He pinpointed a few things on which to work.
They didn’t take. On Saturday, Buttrey hung his offspeed offerings, mislocated his fastball and never got in a rhythm. His earned-run average soared above 3.00 for the first time.
“I just absolutely sucked today,” said Buttrey, who has given up seven runs and is being hit at a .361 clip in his last eight innings. “It can’t happen again.”
Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols hit tying home runs Saturday. David Fletcher collected four hits in a game for the first time in his career. In a back-and-forth game, their hits hardly mattered.
After Fletcher’s two-out double for a 4-2 lead in the second inning, the Angels never again went ahead.
Dillon Peters, who seemed to have things figured out last weekend in Seattle, was rocked for five runs on a night the Angels extended their losing streak to three games. He gave up eight hits in four innings.
The outing could have doomed the team with a bullpen so weary it made three moves — calling up minor leaguer Jose Rodriguez, moving Noe Ramirez to the injured list and recalling Peters for a spot start — to shore up their defenses.
But Trevor Cahill pitched three effective innings. He limited damage to Villar’s solo home run that gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead in the sixth inning.
It still was not enough. Buttrey gave up two runs in the eighth inning. Rodriguez flashed a 95-mph fastball and threw 12/3 scoreless innings.
The Angels scored a run in the ninth inning on Fletcher’s single to left field but left three runners stranded when Justin Upton, who was 10 for 46 in 13 games before Saturday, popped out.
On the heels of a heartening two-game sweep of the Dodgers, the Angels tumbled further down the wild-card standings to five games out of second place a few days before the July 31 trade deadline.
“You don’t ever want to lose three in a row,” Ausmus said. “But with the trade deadline coming up, [this stretch is] not ideal.”