Angels come up empty at full strength in 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay
Reggie Jackson spent the first few innings of Tuesday night’s game in the Angel Stadium press dining room speaking with Tim Mead, the team’s vice president of communications.
No, the Angels were not trying to coax the Hall of Famer out of retirement —Jackson was there as a spokesman for the Prostate Cancer Foundation — but at this point, the 65-year-old former slugger might be an upgrade over some of the Angels’ impotent bats.
The Angels went down quietly again in a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, their fourth straight loss, sixth in the last seven games and 18th in their last 28 games since May 8.
The lineup card said the Angels were at full strength, with Vernon Wells back in the outfield after missing a month because of a groin strain and second baseman Howie Kendrick playing his fourth game since being activated off the disabled list.
The product on the field looked weak, the Angels managing seven hits, going three-up, three-down five times, scoring two runs or less for the 22nd time in 63 games and going one for nine with runners in scoring position.
The Angels rank 13th in the league with a .228 average with runners in scoring position and have hit .190 (12 for 63) in those situations over the last seven games.
“The starting pitchers are giving us a chance to win — this dry spell rests squarely on the shoulders of the offense, and that’s what we need to address,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We need to pick it up and start cashing in on our chances.”
Whether the opposing pitcher is the 2010 All-Star Game starter, like David Price on Monday, or a 23-year-old right-hander making his third big league start, like Alex Cobb on Tuesday, does not seem to matter.
The Angels can’t get much going against anybody. They had three singles in the first inning Tuesday and couldn’t score. They got a leadoff double in the fourth and couldn’t score.
They put a runner on third with no outs in the seventh and didn’t score, Cobb inducing an infield popup by Wells and reliever J.P. Howell striking out pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis and Hank Conger.
Their only hit with runners in scoring position was Torii Hunter’s two-out, run-scoring single in the sixth.
Sensing the mounting frustration, Scioscia will try a less-is-more approach. Posted on the bulletin board on the way into the clubhouse after the game was a notice that there will be no batting practice before Wednesday night’s game, and that players should be dressed at 5:30 p.m., about an hour later than normal.
“These guys have all been taking extra batting practice, doing work in the cages, looking at video,” Scioscia said. “When you’ve been grinding so hard for so long and not seeing results, sometimes coming out and getting loose for a game can re-boot you.”
Johnny Damon had a triple, two doubles, a run and an RBI, Casey Kotchman had three hits, and B.J. Upton hit a solo home run off Angels starter Dan Haren in the third.
Haren showed no ill effects from the lower-back spasms that pushed his start back by three days, giving up three runs and eight hits in seven innings, getting out of a base-loaded, no-outs jam in the second and retiring the last nine batters he faced.
But the right-hander is used to receiving scant support; the Angels have scored 15 runs while Haren has been in the game in his last nine starts.
“We’re too good for this to last much longer,” Haren said. “Things will change.”