Angels once again haunted by pitching woes in ‘frustrating’ loss to Athletics

Angels starting pitcher Jose Quintana delivers during the first inning.
Angels starting pitcher Jose Quintana delivers during the first inning of an 8-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Friday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

This could have been a wonderful story for the home team, in more ways than one.

The young man who started Friday night’s game grew up in Orange County, a graduate of a high school so new that its Wikipedia entry lists one name under “Notable Alumni.”

James Kaprielian is the one, the pride of Beckman High in Irvine, about 10 miles down the 5 Freeway from Angel Stadium.

The Angels ended their three-game losing streak Sunday with a 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

May 23, 2021


Unfortunately for the Angels, he was the starting pitcher for the Oakland Athletics.

The Angels could use some good, young pitching or, really, some good pitching of any kind. Their 5.26 earned-run average is the worst in the major leagues.

On Friday, their starting pitcher reduced his ERA to a season-low 7.92. The first man out of their bullpen faced 10 batters, retired three, with his ERA rising to a season-high 5.48. The closer, pitching in a non-save situation, gave up two home runs in one inning. He has given up five home runs in 16 innings; his ERA stands at 5.63.

The Angels lost, 8-4, falling into a last-place tie in the American League West, a season-high 7½ games out of first place.

The Angels had a 4-3 lead with nine outs to go. Before they could get even three more outs, the lead was gone for good.

“We’ve had this several times already. That’s the issue,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve given up a lot of runs when we had leads. That’s the most frustrating way to lose.”


Oakland Athletics starting pitcher James Kaprielian delivers against the Angels on Friday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

On this night, Maddon said, he even had the bullpen set up just the way he wanted, with his preferred relievers fresh. No matter.

“We grab leads late, we’ve got to keep them,” he said.

On Friday, they sent Jose Quintana to the mound. For the first time this season, Quintana pitched beyond the fifth inning, but not much beyond it.

The Angels let him pitch to the heart of the Oakland order for a third time, with the score tied, 1-1. He gave up a double to Ramon Laureano, got one out, then gave up a single to Chad Pinder.

The Angels then yanked Quintana, but Sean Murphy’s double off Mike Mayers scored Laureano and Pinder.

Highlights from the Angels’ 8-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Friday.

Laureano and Jed Lowrie homered off closer Raisel Iglesias, after Pinder had homered off Mayers and Mark Canha had homered off Quintana.

The Angels are paying Quintana $8 million this season to fortify their starting rotation, the latest in a series of not inexpensive free agents asked to help fill a hole created by the team’s inability to develop pitching.

The draft is not the only way to develop pitching. Every pitcher that has started a game for the A’s this season was acquired from another team. The A’s got Kaprielian from the New York Yankees in a trade for Sonny Gray.

But the draft certainly is a cost-effective way to develop pitching, and to save financial resources for other uses.

The five major league teams in California will be able to play to capacity crowds beginning June 15 under reopening plans announced Friday.

May 21, 2021

On that score, the last decade was a lost one for the Angels. None of the pitchers drafted by the Angels from 2010 to ’19 has provided them with even 100 innings in a season.

The Angels used some as prospect capital in trades to acquire Andrelton Simmons, Huston Street, Justin Upton, Ernesto Frieri and Vinnie Pestano, a forgettable reliever for whom they gave up Mike Clevinger.

At the end of this season, the contracts of four starting pitchers will expire. And, as one decade rolls into another, the Angels again are desperate for pitching.