The slippage of the angels extends to 12 as they are canceled by the Red Sox
You want to be the boy.
Michael Lorenzen, starting with the Angels Saturday night in Philadelphia, I wanted to be the boy. Then he was eliminated for five runs in the first inning. Aaron Loup, who entered the eighth inning with a four-run lead on Sunday, wanted to be the kid. On the mound, he would repeat to himself over and over: “This is where it ends.” Then he loaded the bases and walked away without finishing the innings.
You want to be the guy for the Angels to stop this slip, Loup said, in this free fall out of the division advantage and a wildcard point. But being the guy comes with a price. Younger pitchers, Loup said, can start hitting too much.
Noah Syndergaard, the 6-foot-6 right-footer with a fast ball that slows down but mountains of moxie, looked like Monday night could be the guy against the Boston Red Sox. Except that the angel bats offered little in a 1-0 defeat and all Syndergaard (4-4) had to show for six innings of a one-point ball was a defeat.
Their shovels keep digging. The hole continues to widen. Neither was the guy for 12 straight losses. The Angels have dropped to 27-29 this season after being 24-13 three weeks ago. The 12-game slip is the worst in a season since they lost 12 consecutive games in late 1988.
“I understand, if you are an Angels fan, nobody is happy,” manager Joe Maddon said before the game. “But it’s early enough here to do something different about it, and we’re going to do it.”
But also with Trout finally getting a hit from Boston Michael Wacha to put an end to a career-worst 0-to-26 slip, a hard first inning line blow to the left court to follow Ohtani’s single, the two were largely quiet again on Monday. Ohtani has not yet found the pace of his season as the most precious player of 2021.
It was a frustrating offensive display for the Angels, who sprayed footballs across the pitch but walked away empty-handed. Wacha (4-1) threw a three-shot for his first shutout in five years and Boston (28-27) won his fifth straight game. In the seventh inning, the Angels looked ready to strike after Trout walked to take out the inning and Jared Walsh hit a screaming line drive that was caught on the left side of the infield.
“That was a great moment in the game,” Maddon said.
Walsh picked up his club and gave him a couple of pounds against the turf. Max Stassi then landed a double game. Nothing worked.
“We hit the ball hard, right against people,” Trout said after the game. “This is baseball.”
It was the reversal of many losses during the launch streak where the pitch disappointed the Angels at the start and finish. Syndergaard threw well, missing quite the bat sweet spot and surviving some of the Red Sox hitters’ rockets that died just before the warning trail. He was also saved by Trout’s tremendous sprint hold in the middle of the pitch on Alex Verdugo’s sixth inning throw.
On May 31, with the Angels losing streak in five games, Syndergaard took the ball at Yankee Stadium thinking he was the boy.
“It didn’t work too well for me,” he said Monday.
In that start against the New York Yankees, he gave up five points and seven wins in just 2 1/3 innings. So when he faced another American League East foe in the Red Sox, Syndergaard was well aware of the circumstances but was determined to slow down the game. This beginning, he said, was a “meditation”.
It’s very different from the early 1920s version of Syndergaard, the fiery New York Met that pumped gasoline at 100mph from helpless hitters. The speed has dropped by a few tics since injuries wiped out most of the two seasons. But back, he became a gentle giant.
“I just tried to focus on staying present, focusing on myself… focusing on the breath and taking it one step at a time,” said Syndergaard.
Maddon preached calm after Monday’s loss. Zen broke for a moment, though, when a reporter asked if the Angels were still competing. The manager was frank and said the games weren’t always good.
“The way we lost them is heartbreaking at times,” Maddon said.
So where do the angels go from here? Trout said they can’t focus on the number of leaks or else the skid will increase. Teammates were honest in feeling the weight of the series. The jovial clubhouse vibe at the start of the season subsided, though rescuers Jimmy Herget and Ryan Tepera pulled some pool before Monday’s defeat.
“We’ll find out,” Loup said. “It can’t go wrong forever.”