It wasn’t the two-run home run off the bat of Dodgers third baseman Alex Guerrero in the fourth inning that did in Angels left-hander Hector Santiago in Friday night’s 5-3 loss in Dodger Stadium. It was a fifth-inning flare that traveled about 130 feet off the bat of Scott Van Slyke that did it.
The Angels trailed, 3-1, when Santiago retired the first two hitters of the fifth inning — Howie Kendrick and Adrian Gonzalez — on five pitches. Van Slyke, the cleanup batter, followed with a bloop double that fell into shallow right field, just inside the line and just out of the reach of second baseman Johnny Giavotella.
Yasiel Puig followed with a run-scoring single to left and took second on the throw home, and Yasmani Grandal added an RBI single to left for a 5-1 lead. Those two runs were the difference in the loss, the seventh in eight games for the Angels.
“That definitely changed that whole inning,” Santiago said of Van Slyke’s hit. “I made a good pitch, and he put it right where we’re not. His whole approach is left-center field, to the gap, and he hit the ball exactly where we thought he wouldn’t hit it. [If] we get out of that inning, we’re down, 3-1, and still in the game.”
Santiago entered with a 7-4 record and 2.43 earned-run average and had yielded one or fewer earned runs in 12 of his last 18 starts, but he was tagged for five runs and nine hits in five innings Friday night. Of his 84 pitches, 61 were strikes, but Manager Mike Scioscia thought Santiago struggled to mix his pitches.
“I thought Hector was a little indecisive,” Scioscia said. “It looked like he was searching, not only trying to find his release point, to execute his pitches and repeat his delivery, which he’s been doing really well this year, but to get back into his game plan. He had a little trouble putting pitches together, he was behind in a lot of counts, and he just wasn’t as crisp as we’ve seen him.”
Mike Trout was extremely crisp, a very encouraging sign for the Angels. The center fielder missed two of three games in Houston this past week because of a sore left wrist, and he was hitless in three at-bats in his return Thursday night.
But Trout hit a run-scoring triple in the fourth inning and an RBI single in the sixth off Dodgers starter Zack Greinke and his major league-leading 32nd homer, a solo shot to left-center in the ninth, off closer Kenley Jansen.
“Mike Trout is fine,” Scioscia said. “He feels good.”
Kole Calhoun also singled three times Friday night, but while he and Trout combined to go six for eight, the rest of the Angels combined to go 0 for 24, another in a growing string of uneven performances for the Angels.
“We’ve had a tough week,” Scioscia said. “We haven’t put together a lot of parts of the game. When we’ve scored some runs, we haven’t pitched, and when we’ve pitched, we haven’t scored runs.
“It’s just a tough streak right now. It will settle, and we’ll do what we need to do to win games, but we certainly didn’t get it done tonight.”
Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna