Angels, Jordan Walden let one get away in 3-2 loss to Indians
Reporting from Cleveland — Dan Haren has never been a closer. But he’s pitched in the major leagues for nine seasons and he’s suffered through his share of tough losses.
So he knew exactly how Jordan Walden felt Monday night when the rookie reliever gave up two ninth-inning runs, allowing the Cleveland Indians to rally to a 3-2 win over the Angels.
“It hurts. It’s tough,” Haren said. “But that’s baseball. When you’re on top, it’ll humble you right away. I’ve seen that myself personally.
“He’ll be fine. We need him.”
That’s a vote of confidence Walden no doubt appreciates, especially coming six days before the non-waiver trade deadline, when the few rumors swirling around the Angels have the team looking for an experienced closer.
A veteran closer. Everything that Walden is not.
Haren dismissed all that Monday.
“Most of the rumors don’t happen,” he said. “He’s got an established role on this team for a long time. He throws 100 mph with a really good slider. He’s an All-Star his first year.
“But with that said, everybody has their doubts after a couple of bad games. It’s about going out there and proving to yourself that you can do it again.”
Manager Mike Scioscia agreed.
“Jordan, like a lot of our guys, doesn’t have a track record in the major leagues,” he said. “Hopefully, he grows into one of the best closers in baseball. He has that ability.
“That’s what we’re hoping to see.”
What they saw Monday was a brilliant 72/3 innings from Haren, who gave up two hits and a run to the first three batters, then gave up only an infield single the rest of the way.
But the Angels could get nothing going themselves until Bobby Abreu’s two-run home run, his first homer in more than a month, gave them a 2-1 lead in the eighth.
An inning later Walden came on to protect that lead — and he lasted only five batters, giving up a single and a score-tying double to Travis Hafner before walking a batter on a 3-2 pitch and hitting another with an 0-2 slider.
So Scioscia turned to Hisanori Takahashi, who got one out before rookie Jason Kipnis delivered a walk-off single, slapping a ground ball between first and second for his first hit and first RBI in the major leagues.
“I couldn’t do it in my first three at-bats. So I figured why not now, with everything on the line,” said Kipnis, who kissed the ball after taking it from first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr.
As for Walden, who has blown a baseball-worst seven save chances, well, Tuesday is another day — and he wants the ball then too.
“Oh yeah. I’m always ready to get back out there,” he said.
And if the Angels are leading in the ninth, Scioscia said he’ll get that chance.
“He’s shown the ability to bounce back,” he said. “He’ll get the ball again tomorrow in the same situation.”
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