Angels waste early six-run lead but still escape with 7-6 victory over Orioles
Joe Maddon poked his head into the interview room late Sunday afternoon and seemed surprised to see so many reporters.
“You guys are still here?” the Angels’ manager said.
Maddon would have understood if some ball writers and fans among a crowd of 41,984 at Angel Stadium left early.
That’s how much of a slog their 7-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles was, the Angels blowing a six-run first-inning lead and enduring a tedious 3-hour, 42-minute marathon that featured 14 walks and three hit batters to salvage the finale of a three-game series.
“I guess that was entertaining to some people,” Maddon said.
What would Maddon call it?
“A root canal, something like that,” he said. “Definitely, a win is a win, but it wasn’t necessarily pleasurable.”
Noah Syndergaard had another strong start for the Angels, but key relievers and the defense faltered in a 5-4 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
It seemed fitting that a game so long and grueling was decided by a nine-pitch battle between hard-throwing Orioles right-hander Felix Bautista and the Angels’ Taylor Ward that ended with — what else? — a bases-loaded walk.
This was no ordinary walk, though.
The Angels erupted for six runs in the first inning on Jared Walsh’s two-run single and Jo Adell’s grand slam, but starter José Suarez was tagged for three runs in the third and relievers Aaron Loup and Austin Warren combined to give up three runs in the seventh, the Orioles tying the score 6-6.
Shohei Ohtani, who had been hitless with five strikeouts in 10 at-bats in the series and was sporting new-look, slump-busting, high red socks, led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to right field and took second on Mike Trout’s flyout to right.
Anthony Rendon walked, and Walsh was nicked in the right elbow by a pitch to load the bases. Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde summoned Bautista to face Ward, who fouled off three two-strike pitches and took a 99-mph fastball at the top of the zone for ball four and a 7-6 lead.
“I auto-took it,” Ward said with a straight face when asked how tough it was to lay off that ninth pitch. “I’m not kidding.”
So Ward wasn’t swinging at the pitch, no matter what?
“Yeah,” Ward said. “He could have piped it right down the middle, and I would have let it go. When you’re in the box, sometimes you have these feelings, like, ‘OK, I’m gonna see a fastball here, or the chances that he throws another strike are probably very slim.’
“With that guy, I rolled the dice. I know the game was on the line. It is what it is. But it was my hunch that he wasn’t going to throw another strike.”
Angels reliever Jimmy Herget retired the side in order in the eighth, and with closer Raisel Iglesias unavailable after pitching Saturday, Archie Bradley, who had an 11.12 ERA in his first five games, replaced Herget after Trey Mancini’s leadoff single in the ninth.
But Bradley struck out Anthony Santander with an 85-mph changeup and got Ryan Mountcastle to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play for the save.
“In the ‘pen, you’re gonna give it up sometimes, you’re gonna have your bad days, and all you want to do is get back out there and have a chance to get it again,” Bradley said. “So that’s what that was, a good bounce-back game, and hopefully I can build on it.”
Chris Ellis, a former Angels prospect who was traded to Atlanta for shortstop Andrelton Simmons after 2015, started for the Orioles and did not retire any of the five batters he faced before departing because of shoulder discomfort.
Ohtani walked to open the first inning, Trout was hit by a pitch, Rendon walked, and Walsh poked an opposite-field, two-run single to left. Ward walked to load the bases, and Ellis was replaced by right-hander Travis Lakins.
Adell, added to the lineup after Brandon Marsh was scratched because of a stomach bug, lined the second grand slam of his career to right-center field for a 6-0 lead.
The Angels’ Mike Trout, who’s in his 11th full big league season, is not yet halfway to 3,000 hits — a mark the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera reached Saturday.
But Suarez stumbled in the third, giving up a single, a walk and a three-run homer to Mancini that made it 6-3. Loup walked a batter and hit a batter in the seventh, setting the table for Mountcastle’s RBI single and Austin Hays’ tying two-run homer off Warren.
“You score six in the first, I think everyone thinks like, ‘All right, we’re gonna have a big day,’ and that’s baseball, man,” Bradley said. “You’ve got to give the Orioles credit. They made it tough for us. Luckily, we were able to squeak one out and avoid getting swept.”
Infielder David Fletcher (left hip strain) was scheduled to play nine innings in the field in his third game of a rehabilitation stint with triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday. Head athletic trainer Mike Frostad said Fletcher has “cleared all of our hurdles, so it’s just a matter of what the baseball department wants to do at this point.” … Marsh was scratched from Sunday’s lineup because of a stomach bug and replaced by Adell. Trout and Rendon also have missed games this season because of stomach bugs. … Right-hander Griffin Canning, on the 60-day injured list because of a stress reaction in his lower back, has thrown off a mound twice and should progress to throwing to hitters “in the next few weeks,” Frostad said.
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