Angels starter Dillon Peters snatched one baseball out of the air with his glove as a different one landed 356 feet away from Minute Maid Park’s home plate Saturday evening. Houston’s Alex Bregman, the All-Star infielder who finished fifth in American League MVP voting last year, had just homered in the third inning on a fastball that caught the inside edge of the plate. Three runs scored on the blast.
Peters struggled to stay ahead of hitters in a start Monday against the Texas Rangers. He did so again Saturday. He only walked two batters, but the issues manifested themselves in two-strike counts. Jose Altuve, for example, tripled in a 2-and-2 count in the first inning, and Peters paid for it when Michael Brantley smashed a pitch for a home run and a 2-0 lead.
Two innings later, Altuve ended a seven-pitch battle with Peters by dumping a double in left field. The left-hander then hit Brantley with an errant pitch. Both scored on Bregman’s homer.
“Those two pitches were big mistakes,” said Peters, who has been charged with nine earned runs and 13 hits in his last 8 2/3 innings. “I have to just get better and in a 1-2 count execute it, and have it be a ball, not a home run.
“That’s a good-hitting team. They hit mistakes. It’s just time to get back to work.”
Two ripe opportunities to bail Peters out and get back in the game passed by the Angels. After Luis Rengifo crushed his sixth home run of the season with two out in the fifth, his teammates loaded the bases in front of Mike Trout. Trout could have tied the 5-1 game with a grand slam; he instead drove a pitch from Houston starter Wade Miley on a line to center field for an out. In the next inning, rookie Matt Thaiss worked a 2-and-2 count against reliever Chris Devenski with three runners on base. He struck out to end the sixth.
Manager Brad Ausmus did not consider pinch-hitting Brian Goodwin in Thaiss’ spot because it would have forced him to bring shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who returned from the injured list a day earlier, into the game. At this point in the season, six games under .500 and all but mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, risking a third injured list stint seemed unnecessary.
“I was willing to use [Simmons] to pinch-run in the ninth inning, but I was trying to avoid using Simba,” Ausmus said. “I didn’t want to get stuck in that same rut as we did last time, where he was not getting time off and ended up going back on the DL.”
Goodwin led off the seventh and eventually scored the Angels’ second run of the night on Trout’s single.
The Angels drew three of their seven walks in the final two innings but mustered nothing else. The American League West-leading Astros tied the New York Yankees for the best record in the AL at 84-47, while the Angels lost their fourth in a row.
“We lost some tough ones in Texas,” said Trout, who has two hits in his last 19 plate appearances. “Obviously we had chances tonight and yesterday. We just got to stay positive and try to win a ballgame tomorrow.”
Cody Bellinger and Mike Trout comparison
Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers and Mike Trout of the Angels are putting together staggering offensive seasons. They also are close in most statistical categories. Here’s a daily look at their production:
Source: Baseball Reference