Even rally can’t get monkey off Angels’ backs
The longer the postgame interview went on, the more Mike Scioscia’s voice filled with ire.
The Angels manager has stressed patience during his team’s lengthy offensive funk, but his anger and frustration were hard to suppress after a 4-3, 10-inning loss to Tampa Bay at Angel Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Angels finally broke through with a rare clutch hit, a tying three-run double by Bobby Abreu in the bottom of the eighth inning, but they squandered numerous other chances, going two for 13 with runners in scoring position and striking out 11 times.
The Rays pushed the winning run across on Reid Brignac’s safety squeeze in the top of the 10th, sending the Angels to their fifth consecutive loss and seventh in eight games.
Asked by a radio reporter if Thursday was a good time for a day off, Scioscia said, “I wish we were playing tomorrow, because we need to put our nose to the grindstone and start getting after it.
“We need to get those tough at-bats, to put the barrel on the ball and play better baseball. This has gone far too long. We need to right this ship.”
The same reporter, looking for a sound bite to preview the next series, asked about the Kansas City Royals coming to Anaheim, and Scioscia snapped.
“It doesn’t matter if we have Salt Lake coming in, Altoona coming in, or Orem coming in; we’ve got to play better baseball, that’s the bottom line,” Scioscia said. “These guys are better players than this.”
Not with runners in scoring position. The Angels put runners on second and third with no outs in the second, and Mark Trumbo, Vernon Wells and Peter Bourjos all struck out against Tampa Bay starter James Shields.
They loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Torii Hunter, swinging at a first pitch, bounced into a 6-4-3 double play, the 17th double play Hunter has grounded into, which ties him with Albert Pujols for the major league lead.
Abreu’s clutch hit in the eighth, a bases-loaded double to right-center off reliever Cesar Ramos, was only the seventh hit the Angels have had in 38 at-bats with the bases loaded, a major league-worst .184 average.
The Angels, who also lead the major leagues with 499 strikeouts, still had a runner on second with no out after Abreu’s hit, but after Abreu took third on Howie Kendrick’s groundout, Trumbo popped out and Wells struck out.
“We’re expanding the zone,” Scioscia said, when asked what he’s seeing in those at-bats with runners in scoring position. “We’re swinging at pitcher’s pitches. We’re not making the pitcher work out of jams, we’re helping him out of jams, and we have to get better.”
Scioscia was also displeased with a defensive play in the 10th. John Jaso opened with a walk off Fernando Rodney, and pinch-hitter Evan Longoria reached on an infield single.
With Brignac squaring, Jaso stole third. Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo, who was in, dropped the throw from catcher Hank Conger as he scrambled back to the bag.
Had Callaspo held onto the ball, Jaso would have been out, because his head-first slide carried him well past the bag. Brignac got a bunt down that scored Jaso with the winning run.
“He’s out,” Scioscia said of Jaso. “Alberto was prepped. We know they do that. Alberto got a little deep and didn’t react. Alfredo [Griffin, infield coach] told him just before, and unfortunately, Alberto dropped the baseball.”