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Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon homer again, but Angels fall to A’s

Angels pitcher Griffin Canning throws to the plate during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics.
Angels pitcher Griffin Canning throws to the plate during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Angels right-hander Griffin Canning tipped his cap to the Athletics following Wednesday’s 8-4 loss in Angel Stadium, saying Oakland’s hitters, who clubbed three tape-measure home runs in four innings off him, simply “executed a game plan better than I did today.”

After Matt Olson hit a 454-foot solo shot to right-center field in the first inning, Robbie Grossman hit a 421-foot, two-run shot to right-center in the second and Stephen Piscotty hit a 428-foot solo shot to left in the fourth, Angels manager Joe Maddon wondered if there was something else Canning was tipping: his pitches.

“I just want to look at it — I want to see what’s going on,” Maddon said after the A’s avoided a three-game sweep. “Mickey [Callaway, pitching coach] and I talked about it. They just weren’t chasing, and they were early-count hitting.

“I don’t know if that was their game plan and they were fortuitous, but that’s one of the things you have to look at. … It just seemed like they were on everything, and [Canning] wasn’t getting the normal bad swings I see him get.”

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Canning allowed four runs and six hits, struck out two and walked none. It was an improvement over his last start, when he walked six in 3 2/3 innings in last Friday’s 4-3 loss at Texas, but he didn’t feel like his line matched his stuff.

Injured shortstop Andrelton Simmons could be back soon, but Angels manager Joe Maddon said he will find a way to keep David Fletcher in the lineup.

“Honestly, I felt like I had probably some of the better stuff I had this year, so that’s just baseball,” Canning said. “I thought they did a really good job of laying off some good sliders that were down and away.”

As they review video, Canning and Callaway will try to determine if any pitches were tipped.

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“I mean, especially in today’s game, I think it’s just something you consistently have to be on the lookout for,” Canning said. “I felt like my stuff was really good today. It could just be a product of them.

“They’re Major League Baseball players. They get paid a lot of money, too, so they just could have executed a game plan really well. Or, there could be something there, I don’t know.”

Mike Trout hit his team-leading eighth homer, a solo shot to right, in the first and a sacrifice fly in a two-run third, and Anthony Rendon homered in his third straight game, driving a solo shot to center in the sixth to pull the Angels to within 5-4.

The Angels nearly tied the score in the seventh when Brian Goodwin sent a two-out drive to deep center, where Ramon Laureano, playing on appeal of a six-game suspension for his part in Sunday’s benches-clearing incident with Houston, made a superb leaping catch above the wall to rob Goodwin of a homer.

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“We knew it was gonna be close,” Maddon said of Goodwin’s drive. “It wasn’t gone-gone, one of those things where you know it’s a home run. When it left the bat, it was a definite maybe.”

Laureano also made a diving catch in shallow center to rob Jo Adell of a hit in the fifth and a leaping catch of Tommy La Stella’s drive to the wall in the sixth.

He then provided a dagger in the eighth, following Angels reliever Ty Buttrey’s bases-loaded walk to Marcus Semien with a two-out, two-run single to center for an 8-4 Oakland lead.

In the wake of coronavirus outbreaks that have interrupted the season for three teams, MLB is considering whether to move the postseason into a bubble.

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“We obviously wish he had started serving his suspension today,” Maddon said of Laureano. “He’s a good baseball player. He swings the bat well, works good at-bats, doesn’t chase, he’s good on defense. He caught that blooper, catches the ball over the wall. He was probably the biggest difference in today’s game.”

Laureano had the only hit in the three-run eighth, as the A’s took advantage of Felix Pena’s walk to Grossman, Keynan Middleton’s walks to Piscotty and No. 9 hitter Sean Murphy and Buttrey’s walk on a full-count slider in the dirt to Semien.

Middleton, Pena and Buttrey were beginning to solidify late-inning roles with their stout relief work in the past week or so, but Wednesday was a step back for the bullpen.

“The walks hurt us there, no question about it,” Maddon said. “We just can’t walk teams like this and give them that opportunity.”

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Three observations on the Angels

  1. Demoted closer Hansel Robles provided a bright spot, striking out Matt Chapman with a 97-mph fastball, Mark Canha with a 95-mph fastball and Robbie Grossman with an 88-mph changeup in the ninth.
  2. Rookie right fielder Jo Adell had a rough first week in the big leagues, making several defensive gaffes and knocking a Nick Solak fly ball over the wall with his glove for a four-base error on Sunday. But he made a nice leaping catch at the top of the wall of Matt Olson’s drive to end the eighth with two on.
  3. Injured shortstop Andrelton Simmons (left-ankle sprain) could return this weekend, but he won’t push David Fletcher, who has dazzled defensively and sparked the offense from the leadoff spot, out of the lineup.

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