Joe Maddon slow to use the hook on Griffin Canning in Angels’ loss to Rangers

Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning walks behind the mound after giving up a single.
Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning walks behind the mound after giving up a single to Texas Rangers first baseman Todd Frazier during the fourth inning Friday.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)
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One of the early hallmarks of manager Joe Maddon’s tenure with the Angels has been a tendency to pull starters early.

In most instances, he has provided sound reasoning. Earlier this week, for instance, a pitch limit kept him from letting Julio Teherán, a late arrival to summer camp because of a bout with the coronavirus, work out of a third-inning jam.

But in Friday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers, Maddon was slow to pull out his hook. And an error by Tommy La Stella in a pivotal fourth-inning sequence compounded the Angels’ frustrations in a 4-3 loss.


Griffin Canning allowed the first two hitters he faced in the fourth inning to reach base. After securing a flyout, he induced a ground ball to the right side of the infield. It should have started a double play and kept a 3-1 Angels lead intact.

But second baseman La Stella kicked the ball away. The error allowed the Rangers to load the bases.

Eric Kay, a longtime Angels PR official, has been charged in Texas with distributing the fentanyl that caused the fatal overdose of Tyler Skaggs.

Aug. 7, 2020

Canning then issued a bases-loaded walk and made an error on a pickoff attempt at second base. As the ball dribbled into center field, Isiah Kiner-Falefa scored to tie the game 3-3. Canning capped the inning with his sixth walk of the night.

“We got the ground balls that would have gotten him out of the inning and then it kind of snowballed after that,” Maddon said after the Angels dropped to 5-9. “So there’s a good, strong argument to leave him in there because if we make that play, the inning’s over and he may have gone further. He might have settled in.”

The inning unraveled so quickly that Canning had faced seven batters by the time Maddon summoned reliever Mike Mayers from the bullpen. Mayers hit Nick Solak with a pitch, forcing in a run, before getting out of the inning.

Canning, 24, is one of the Angels’ least-experienced starters but has proved himself as one of their most promising arms. He was especially effective against the American League West-leading Houston Astros last week, holding them to one run and six hits in a no-decision.


He gave up only three hits but wasn’t nearly as sharp Friday. He threw only two more strikes (45) than balls (43) and issued six walks in 3-2/3 innings.

“I kind of pride myself on, if stuff kind of goes sideways like that, then I should be able to pick Tommy up there,” Canning said. “But walk the next guy and just kind of compounded some things so, I just really shouldn’t have been in that situation there, just not attacking as much early on.”

Angels slugger Mike Trout waves to the dugout after hitting a two-run home run.
Angels slugger Mike Trout waves to the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning against the Texas Rangers on Friday.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

The Angels bullpen kept the game close the rest of the night. The offense never delivered.

Mike Trout, who turned 29 on Friday, homered. Max Stassi drove in a run. The occurrences have taken place in two of the Angels’ last three games. The unlikely pair has formed the backbone of the offense, combining to drive in 11 of the last 15 runs scored by the Angels.

But Trout and Stassi’s timely hits Friday weren’t enough to lead the Angels to a second consecutive victory.

The Angels failed to score after the first inning. And Anthony Rendon’s hitless streak stretched to 20 plate appearances.


He last logged a hit in Sunday’s extra-innings loss to the Houston Astros.

“We just didn’t take advantage of situations,” Maddon said. “Errors occur in this game. I’m never going to be upset with the guys taking a shot like on that pickoff where a pitcher is struggling a bit, and you catch a runner napping possibly. I’m all for it, especially with the bases loaded.

“We just did not execute up to our abilities tonight.”

Three observations from the Angels’ loss to the Rangers on Friday:

  • Albert Pujols hit his 662nd career double in the fourth inning — barely. The 40-year-old needed nearly 10 seconds to slide feet-first into second and almost was thrown out. Pujols needs three doubles to tie George Brett for sixth all time.
  • One day after being praised by his manager for improving the timing of his swing, Shohei Ohtani went hitless in four at-bats and struck out three times. He has homered three times but he’s hitting .147 (five for 34).
  • Griffin Canning issued six walks, tying a career high set during his rookie year. He could not make it out of the fourth inning.

Short hops

Trout’s first-inning homer was the fifth he has hit on his birthday. Trout entered the game with 73.1 wins above replacement, according to the Baseball Reference website. That ranks fourth all time by a player’s 29th birthday, behind Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby and Mickey Mantle. ... Left-hander Patrick Sandoval will return to the rotation Saturday, pending a roster move. ... Outfielder Jo Adell was left out of the lineup for a second consecutive game because of soreness in his right quadriceps. He is expected back Saturday.