MIAMI — The Angels and their struggling offense ran into one of baseball’s best pitchers on Tuesday.
The result was predictable.
The Angels managed just three hits in a 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins and Cy Young front-runner Sandy Alcantara.
Including the three-game sweep over the weekend in Houston, the Angels have now gone four straight games with three hits or less, which is a first in franchise history. They hit .094 and scored five runs in the four games.
The Angels didn’t have a baserunner until Luis Rengifo’s single with two outs in the fifth. He was stranded at third when Max Stassi struck out.
Their other hit was a Mike Trout infield single in the seventh, snapping an 0-for-16 skid for Trout. Trout was forced at second, but then Shohei Ohtani stole second and went to third on a fly ball. He was stranded there when Jared Walsh struck out.
The Angels rallied in the ninth, after Alcantara was out, with a Michael Stefanic hit and two walks, but they still couldn’t come up with a hit with runners in scoring position. They settled for a sacrifice fly.
All told, the Angels added to their MLB-leading strikeout total by punching out 11 times, including 10 in eight innings against Alcantara.
The Marlins’ right-hander improved his ERA to 1.82. He’s also pitched a major league-leading 123-1/3 innings.
“He’s been pretty dominant,” Angels acting manager Bill Haselman said. “All year his numbers are really good. He fills up the strike zone again and again and did tonight.”
Haselman said he got the first clue that Alcantara was on when he threw a 2-and-0 changeup in the strike zone to Jonathan Villar leading off the game.
“When you’re able to do that, to start off with the leadoff hitter, you know the guy’s got good command,” Haselman said. “His ball was moving so much and when you throw 98-99 and it’s moving, it becomes a little difficult.”
When Alcantara was finally out of the game after eight innings, the Angels had a chance. They loaded the bases on Stefanic’s single and two walks against left-hander Tanner Scott. Taylor Ward then hit a fly ball to center field, driving in one.
“Ward just missed that ball off the end of his bat,” Haselman said. “If he gets that like we know he can, we probably win the game.”
Angels right-hander Noah Syndergaard couldn’t keep up with Alcantara, even though he allowed just two runs in five innings. He gave up solo homers to Garrett Cooper in the third and Bryan De La Cruz in the fifth.
Cooper hit a fastball over the inside corner. De La Cruz hit a hanging slider on an 0-and-1 pitch.
Otherwise, Syndergaard’s biggest issue was that the Marlins fouled off 22 pitches, which ran up his pitch count. He was pulled after throwing 92 pitches.
He did a nice job to work out of a first-inning jam, stranding runners at second and third when he struck out Avisail Garcia and got Jesus Sanchez on a flyout.
Syndergaard still finished with eight strikeouts, a season-high, even though he pitched just five innings. He did not walk a batter.
“It was OK,” Syndergaard said. “The delivery felt pretty good. Just a hard loss.”