Angels embrace a defiant mood despite continued struggles against Astros
There were no strobe lights or bubbles and no loud rap music in the Angels’ clubhouse Sunday afternoon. The fog machine, like third baseman Anthony Rendon, got the day off.
The spoils of victory that filled the room the night before were replaced by an eerie silence that already has an all-too-familiar ring to the Angels.
A 4-1 loss to the Houston Astros before an Angel Stadium crowd of 41,253 on Sunday was the third in four games to start the season for the Angels, who scored 10 runs in the series, four coming after they were down by 10 runs Friday night.
The Astros, favored to win their fifth division title in six years, outslugged the Angels, outplayed them defensively and outpitched them in the bullpen.
Michael Lorenzen, an Orange County native who played at Fullerton High and Cal State Fullerton, will debut with Angels against Miami Marlins on Monday.
Two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, the reigning American League most valuable player, had two hits and five strikeouts in 17 at-bats. Rendon went one for nine. Shortstop David Fletcher went one for 11.
Left fielder Jo Adell looked overmatched at the plate, where he is hitless with seven strikeouts in nine at-bats, and a little shaky in the field, though he did rob Niko Goodrum of a three-run homer with a nice catch at the top of the wall in the eighth inning Sunday.
Through it all, Angels manager Joe Maddon, ever the optimist, refused to be deterred.
“My takeaway is that we’re very close to Houston,” Maddon said. “Three of those games absolutely could have gone either way. We got one of them [a 2-0 win Saturday night] and one [Friday’s 13-6 loss] was not a good game for us.
“But I liked the way we played. I like our energy. There are certain things we have to get better at, I agree. But we’re very close to beating that team. By no means am I discouraged.”
For seven innings Sunday, the length of a fingertip was all that separated the Angels and Astros.
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the second on Jack Mayfield’s homer and had a chance to pad the lead in the third when Tyler Wade reached on a one-out bunt single and took third on Ohtani’s ground-rule double, a 119.1-mph laser that one-hopped the short wall in right and was the hardest-hit ball of his career.
Mike Trout followed with a fly ball to medium right. The speedy Wade tagged and beat Kyle Tucker’s throw home with a head-first slide, but umpire Ryan Wills ruled that Wade’s left hand did not touch the plate. Catcher Martin Maldonado tagged Wade behind the home-plate circle for an inning-ending double play.
The Angels challenged, and the crowd roared twice when replays showed Wade appearing to nick the back of the plate with his pinky finger. But that replay was determined to be inconclusive, the out call was upheld, and the inning was over.
“I knew I touched the plate,” Wade said, “but that’s their call.”
Wade spoke with second-base umpire Vic Carapazza the following inning, “and he said on the replay, when my hand hit the dirt, the dirt flew up and they couldn’t see [my hand touch the plate] from an aerial view,” Wade said.
“I think that was a big momentum changer. If I score there, I think it completely flips it back on our side. I feel like the air kind of got sucked out of the stadium after that call, but you know, bang-bang play, it could have gone either way.”
Angels starter José Suarez gave up two walks and a single in the third but escaped the bases-loaded, one-out jam when he got Alex Bregman to fly to shallow center and Yordan Alvarez to line out to center.
Noah Syndergaard gave up just two hits in 5 1/3 scoreless innings and Mike Trout hit a home run as the Angels beat the Houston Astros 2-0 on Saturday.
The left-hander didn’t get away with a pair of one-out walks in the fifth, including a second to Maldonado, the No. 9 hitter. Reliever Austin Warren struck out Jeremy Pena but threw a wild pitch, advancing the runners to second and third. Bregman lined a two-run single to center for a 2-1 lead.
Houston tacked on two more runs in the eighth on an Archie Bradley wild pitch and a Chas McCormick RBI infield single, and relievers Phil Maton (sixth), Rafael Montero (seventh), Hector Neris (eighth) and Ryan Pressly (ninth) closed the game with scoreless innings.
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.