Things were better last week. Exactly seven days ago, the Angels were fresh off a sweep of the White Sox and on their way to sweeping the Rangers as well. During that six-game stretch, the Angels recorded a +24 run differential and hit eight home runs as a team. Then a series in Huston against the Astros happened.
Matt Shoemaker continued to throw exceptionally well for the Halos as he went 6.2 innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs while striking out 5. Success for Shoemaker came when he got ahead in the count early, 22 of the 27 batters he faced he threw first pitch strike.
Although Shoemaker threw over 80 percent first-pitch strikes, it seemed the innings he threw the most were the innings he ran into trouble. Despite a great, but unfortunately shortened performance, the mere two runs he allowed were still not enough to get the win. Joe Smith finished out the 7th for the Angels and JC Ramirez came in to pitch the 8th but both efforts were for not as the Angels were unable to score enough runs to match the Astros’ two scored.
The Angels were held to one run and just five hits, two by Andrelton Simmons. The main reason for the lack of hitting was the 10 strikeouts by Lance McCullers. A late rally attempt was made as Andrelton Simmons drove in Kole Calhoun with 2 outs in the 9th. However, Ji-Man Choi struck out in the following at-bat and the Angels went down, but went down fighting.
Final Score: Astros 2 Angels 1
Sometime between their 7-run game on Wednesday against Texas to a simple 1-run performance against the Astros on Friday, the Angels’ offense lost their groove. That was the most significant issue in this game. A 1-9 day with runners in scoring position is not how teams win baseball games and it showed for this suddenly struggling offense.
Game 2: Jared Weaver (8-8) vs. Collin McHugh (7-6)
After a hitless 1st inning, it seemed that it would be another good outing from Weaver, but then the Astros plated three in the 2nd inning and it just kept getting worse from there. Weaver only lasted 4.0 innings while allowing six earned runs on seven hits. Jhoulys Chacin came in after the short outing by Weaver, which he did just a few days ago after Nick Tropeano only lasted 2.0 innings. Chacin pitched 4.0 innings allowing just one run on three hits, a much more quality outing. He also pitched to contact well; of the 40 strikes he threw 24 were either fouled or put in play. With only three hits allowed, Chacin did a great job of forcing weak contact. Unfortunately, his well-pitched four innings were needed before the Astros put up six runs.
The Halos struggled to get going at the plate again in this one, scoring only two runs. They were held to just two hits until the 5th inning when they scored their first run. That run came off the bat of Ji-Man Choi when he launched a leadoff home run 409 feet into right field. The final run of the day for the Angels came in the following inning when Andrelton Simmons singled to score Yunel Escobar. Simmons stayed hot at the plate going 2-4 in consecutive games, but the Angels as a team were still only 1-6 with runners in scoring position.
Final Score: Astros 7 Angels 2
Jared Weaver is making way too much money for how old and unreliable he is. One day he goes 8.0 innings of shutout baseball and the next three starts he doesn’t even make it to the 5th or 6th inning. He is not the solid pitcher he used to be, he could be good out of the bullpen, though. Jhoulys Chacin, on the other hand, is progressively becoming more stable for the Angels, especially out of the bullpen in his last two appearances. On the offensive side of the game, the bats could not get going again for Los Angeles, but even a little extra effort would have been unimportant as the starting pitching did not hold up their end of the bargain.
Game 3: Tim Lincecum (2-4) vs. Mike Fiers (7-4)
As if the previous game wasn’t bad enough for the pitching staff, Sunday was a Johnny Whole-Staff game for the Angels as no arm made it to 2.0 innings of work. Lincecum only lasted 1.1 innings, giving up seven hits and eight earned runs along with three home runs. Deolis Guerra pitched the most of the staff for the day, 1.2 innings. He only gave up one run but the bleeding had already begun. Jose Alvarez gave up three runs but only one was earned and that inning is when things spiraled out of control for Los Angeles. The final tally was 13 runs allowed on 15 hits for the Angels’ pitching staff, it can only get better from here.
Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons both had hits in the respective first two innings, but were unable to be pushed across. In the 3rd the Angels loaded the bases with nobody out, but a sacrifice fly by Kole Calhoun to score Jett Bandy was the only run the Halos could produce. Another run did not come until the 7th when Ji-Man Choi doubled with one out and then Jett Bandy homered to left. A few more scattered hits and the Angels were held to just 3 runs for the day.
Final Score: Astros 13 Angels 3
Angels’ fans would much rather go back to a week ago when their team was winning and playing exceptionally well. The worst thing that could have happened for a team that was so hot was an off day, and that is exactly what the Angels had.
The Angels will look to get back to winning as Hector Santiago takes the mound on July 25 in Kansas City when the Angels take on the Royals.