The Angels lost 10-8 in 16 innings to the Baltimore Orioles in the early hours of Friday morning, well after rookie Jose Suarez turned in a strong 4 1/3-inning performance and outfielders Kole Calhoun and Brian Goodwin provided some thunder in the seventh and ninth innings.
Mike Trout tried to end the game at Angel Stadium with a bases-loaded double in the 15th inning. Two runs scored easily on the rocketed hit to tie the game 8-8. David Fletcher raced home representing the winning run.
But as he slid feet-first into the plate, he was tagged on the chest by Orioles catcher Pedro Severino and was called out by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo. The Angels challenged the play. After nearly three minutes of deliberation, the call stood.
“His hand was in there before the glove hit him in the chest,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “I think it’s a tough call for Tony Randazzo but I think New York missed it.”
“I thought I got my hand in there,” Fletcher said. “I’m probably biased though.”
The call forced the Angels to rely on Griffin Canning for a second inning. And when the six-hour, 19-minute affair was over, all that was left for the Angels to worry about was the state of their pitching staff.
Canning was supposed to pitch the second game of this series. But because long reliever Noe Ramirez was home recovering from an illness, the only reliever available after the 11th was Adalberto Mejia. The newly acquired left-hander lasted three innings, throwing 47 pitches.
Canning was forced to come in. He wound up as the losing pitcher of a marathon that began Thursday at 7:08 p.m. and ended at half-past 1 a.m.
The Angels used 10 pitchers, including four relievers who had already pitched in two straight games. The members of that group — Mejia, Hansel Robles, Cam Bedrosian and Taylor Cole — will be unavailable for at least one game, if not more.
The Angels, who remain four games out of second-place in the wild-card standings, will have to shake up their roster before Friday night’s game. Of the likeliest options on the 40-man, veteran Nick Tropeano, who has a 7.66 ERA at triple-A Salt Lake, has the freshest arm. He hasn’t pitched since Sunday.
“We’ll have to find a way,” Ausmus said. “We’re in a position where we need to win games, every game matters, so we’re gonna need some people that we didn’t necessarily have on the roster or didn’t expect to step up to step up and help us win.”
For about 15 minutes Thursday evening, it seemed Calhoun, whose last seven hits have all gone for extra bases, had saved the Angels again.
He smashed a two-out, bases-loaded double to deep center field in the seventh. The ball sailed over the head of backpedaling Baltimore Orioles center fielder Stevie Wilkerson. Three runs scored, giving the Angels a 4-2 lead just before Ausmus turned the mound over to their two most reliable relievers.
But rookie Buttrey relinquished the Angels’ lead, giving up one run on a sacrifice fly and another on Wilkerson’s ground-rule double in the eighth. Robles, who had allowed only two runs in his previous 22 1/3 innings, failed to preserve the tie. Orioles slugger Trey Mancini crushed a high, 97-mph fastball for a go-ahead home run.
The Angels did not wilt. Two outs away from a loss, Brian Goodwin, who had entered left field in the eighth inning for defensive purposes, bore down on Mychal Givens’ first pitch. He launched the 95-mph fastball deep to right field, far enough for a game-tying homer.
No one scored again until two hours later, when the Orioles charged ahead with three runs off Canning in the 15th.
Yet the madness didn’t end until Wilkerson moved to the mound in the 16th inning, threw 55-mph pitches Ausmus described as “lollipops” and earned the first save by any position player in 50 years.
“I think we all thought we had it won,” Angels catcher Kevin Smith said. “Trouty is who he is. I don’t think we doubted him one bit in that situation. But the chips didn’t fall in our favor.”