Angels’ meltdown ends with Phillies walk-off homer as ‘gut-wrenching’ skid grows
The Angels don’t need another no-hitter or a dramatic walk-off hit or some breathtaking two-way feat from Shohei Ohtani when they return to Anaheim for a seven-game homestand that begins Monday night, though all would be welcomed.
What they need most is a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
Then the Angels found a new and even more soul-crushing way to lose, blowing a four-run lead in the eighth inning and a one-run lead in the ninth to an underachieving Philadelphia Phillies team that fired manager Joe Girardi on Friday.
Michael Lorenzen gave up five first-inning runs, and the Angels couldn’t recover in a 7-2 loss at Philadelphia for their 10th consecutive defeat.
Closer Raisel Iglesias gave up a tying grand slam in the eighth, and Jimmy Herget gave up a three-run homer to No. 9 hitter Bryson Stott in the ninth, as the Phillies stormed back for a 9-7 walk-off victory in front of a crowd of 34,801 at Citizens Bank Park.
“That was a tough one,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve lost a lot of tough ones. It really makes no sense. We got the right guys out there at the right time, and again, we gave it up late. … It’s gut-wrenching at times, no question.”
The Angels have now lost 11 straight games, going 0-6 against the Phillies and New York Yankees on this trip, and 15 of their last 18. The 11 losses match their second-longest streak in franchise history. The last such streak was from Aug. 4-15, 2016.
The Angels were 24-13 and tied for first place with Houston in the American League West on May 15. They are now 27-28, one game under .500 and 8 ½ games behind the Astros.
“We’re a really good team,” Herget said. “We’re the same team that was, what,  games over .500? So, I think we’ll be all right.”
This has been a familiar refrain in the clubhouse for the past week, but the Angels don’t sound very convincing. Nor do they look it.
They broke out for five runs in the fourth inning Sunday, equaling their offensive output in the first five games of the trip, with Matt Duffy (single), Ohtani (double) and Mike Trout (walk) setting the table and Jared Walsh (two-run single), Jo Adell and Kurt Suzuki (RBI singles) and Tyler Wade (RBI fielder’s choice) cleaning up.
They tacked on an insurance run in the eighth on Brandon Marsh’s two-out RBI single for a 6-2 lead.
Ryan Tepera threw a one-two-three seventh. Left-hander Aaron Loup took over in the eighth, which began with Odubel Herrera’s single and Johan Camargo’s soft grounder to the left of Duffy at third. Duffy fielded the ball cleanly but threw into right field for an error, putting runners on first and third.
“Just trying to be too quick,” Duffy said. “Trying to turn a double play on a grounder that wasn’t a double-play ball.”
Stott grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Loup walked Kyle Schwarber to load the bases. Maddon summoned Iglesias, who hadn’t pitched since May 27.
The right-hander struck out Rhys Hoskins with a 90-mph changeup and battled Harper during a seven-pitch at-bat in which he threw five changeups, the slugger falling behind 0-and-2 before working the count full.
Iglesias left an 89.5-mph changeup over the middle. Harper, the 2021 National League most valuable player, had Iglesias timed and crushed a 426-foot shot to right for his sixth career grand slam and a 6-6 tie.
“Just a bad spot,” Maddon said of the home run pitch. “Just bounce it. Throw the pitch where he can’t hit it, but we didn’t.”
The Angels did not fold. Suzuki walked to open the top of the ninth, Wade bunted into a fielder’s choice, stole second and took third on pinch-hitter Luis Rengifo’s groundout to shortstop.
Duffy then shot an opposite-field grounder that snuck under the glove of the sliding Hoskins at first base for an RBI single and a 7-6 Angels lead.
But Iglesias gave up a one-out single to Alec Bohm and a two-out single to Didi Gregorious in the ninth before yielding to Herget, who threw three straight balls to Stott. Herget came back with two strikes but left a 75-mph curve over the middle that Stott crushed for his game-winner.
“It was a pitch I had conviction in, a pitch I’ve been throwing all year and striking guys out with,” said Herget, who entered with a 2.77 ERA in 18 appearances. “I threw it. He hit it. It’s unfortunate. Obviously, I let the team down.”
The Angels continue their 2 1/2-week freefall, losing 10-0 to the Philadelphia Phillies for their longest losing streak since 2016.
The clubhouse was as silent after the game as Trout’s bat has been for a week. The Angels center fielder went 0 for 3 with a walk Sunday, extending his career-long hitless streak to 26 at-bats.
There was no need for a team meeting. The Angels already had two on this trip, Duffy said, one player-driven, one coach-driven.
“We’re past meetings at this point,” Duffy said. “We’re all professionals. We know what we’re supposed to do to win ballgames.”
The key, Duffy said, is to relax, not put so much pressure on yourself, the way they did too often on this trip.
“In a stretch like this, the tendency is to try to do too much, which I may have done on that [eighth-inning] ground ball,” Duffy said. “That ninth inning almost felt like Game 7 of the World Series, and it’s not. We have to [remember to] stay within ourselves, play our best game and nothing more.”
The Angels put right fielder Taylor Ward on the 10-day injured list because of a mild right-hamstring strain and recalled outfielder Jo Adell from triple-A Salt Lake.
Ward was one of baseball’s best hitters though mid-May, batting .370 with a 1.194 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, nine homers and 23 RBIs in his first 30 games.
But he hasn’t been the same since slamming face-first into the wall to catch a fly ball and suffering a stinger in his neck and right shoulder on May 20, hitting .167 (four for 24) with one homer and three RBIs in his last eight games.
Ward’s hamstring tightened up during Friday night’s game, and he sat out Saturday night’s game. Ward also missed opening day because of a groin injury and sat out a few games because of a hamstring injury in mid-May. He has played in only 38 of the team’s 55 games.
The Angels were 10 games over .500 and riding high on the same night the Anaheim City Council canceled the Angel Stadium sale amid an FBI investigation.
“Absolutely,” Ward said, when asked if he’s getting tired of all his nagging injuries. “It is really, really annoying.”
Ward’s latest setback opened an opportunity for Adell, who hit .215 with a .627 OPS in the first month of the season before his demotion to Salt Lake in early May.
Adell hit .478 (11 for 23) with five homers and 10 RBIs in his first eight triple-A games but .122 (5 for 41) with one homer and five RBIs in his last 12 games.
“He had such a good start, then a little bit of a struggle, but we know what that feels like,” Maddon said before the game. “Let’s get him up here, see if we can turn him loose a bit, see if he can help us.”
The Angels demoted Ward because they thought he would be better off playing every day in the minor leagues rather than sporadically in the big leagues. Adell should get more playing time while Ward is out, but Maddon did not commit to Adell playing every day.
“I’m gonna have to make that work,” said Adell, who had an RBI infield single in four at-bats and made a nice running catch in right field in Sunday’s 9-7 loss to the Phillies. “That’s something I have to adjust to. It’s a competitive team with a lot of good players, and I’m not necessarily gonna be out there every day. The days I am, try to compete.”
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