BALTIMORE — It seems so long ago that the Angels were desperate for any pitching.
Nowadays, the Angels are starving for runs.
The Angels wasted a brilliant outing by Patrick Sandoval in a 1-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon.
The offensive outage, which has lasted for six weeks, has been the primary culprit as the Angels (38-48) have dropped to a season-worst 10 games under .500. So far they’ve lost all three in Baltimore, with one game to go.
Since May 31, the Angels have hit .206 with a .613 OPS, both ranking 29th in the majors in that span. In the first eight games of this nine-game trip, they’ve hit .172 with a .503 OPS. They’ve lost seven times.
“You can say all you want about good pitching, but this is the big leagues, there’s good pitching everywhere,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “Make adjustments and drive some balls. When we get runners on and we’ve got a chance to add on runs or start rallies, we’re just missing that big hit. It’s hard to just lean on the top of the order every time. I think we’re getting good at-bats at the bottom, but we need those better at-bats when we’ve got guys on base, and out of the top really. We just really didn’t have those today.”
The Angels were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. They had three opportunities to drive in runners from third with less than two outs, and they failed each time. Kurt Suzuki fouled out in the second, Michael Stefanic grounded into a double play in the sixth and Brandon Marsh struck out in the seventh.
“It was literally right down the middle,” Suzuki said of the pitch he popped up. “I feel like I could have done better. Round bat, round ball. Sometimes baseball just doesn’t go your way.”
They also wasted an opportunity with a mistake on the bases.
In the fifth, Marsh was at second with one out and Mike Trout at the plate. Trout hit a grounder to third baseman Tyler Nevin. After Nevin threw to first to get Trout, Marsh tried to get to third and he was thrown out for an inning-ending double play.
Phil Nevin said that was a poor decision by Marsh.
“It’s the difference between aggressive mistakes and at that time in the game it’s just a bad time to push that envelope right there,” he said.
The Angels’ anemic offensive performance saddled Sandoval with a loss, even though he pitched one of his best games of the season. He gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings, dropping his ERA to 2.95 and giving his manager hope that he’ll be selected for the All-Star team when full rosters are announced Sunday.
“I thought he did a phenomenal job,” Nevin said. “He’s been a guy we can lean on each time out. Hopefully he’ll get some good news on Sunday. He deserves to pitch in an All-Star Game.”
Sandoval struck out a season-high 10 and walked two. He had both his changeup and his slider working, when usually he picks one or the other and rides that.
“Today was fun,” Sandoval said. “Got to use both of them.”
Sandoval threw 29 changeups, and the Orioles whiffed at 10 of their 19 swings at the pitch. He recorded six of his strikeouts on the changeup. He threw 25 sliders, and the Orioles whiffed on 9 of 17 swings, including four of his strikeouts.
Two of the strikeouts on changeups came in the fourth inning, when Sandoval escaped the only real trouble he faced all afternoon.
Ryan Mountcastle singled and took second on a wild pitch, and then he scored on an Anthony Santander single. Sandoval walked Adley Rutschman to put two on for Ramos Urias, but he struck him out on a changeup to keep the damage to one run.
That was all he allowed, which should have been good enough for a victory.
“There’s no way around it, we’re obviously not playing good baseball right now,” Suzuki said. “We’ve just got to keep keep coming to the ballpark every day and and keep trying to get better. That’s why this game is so frustrating, but fun at the same time, because you can keep trying to get better. There’s a lot of talent here. We just got to keep working. Keep working every day.”