ANAHEIM — Amid the recurring, and mostly accurate, narrative that the Angels’ pitching has been holding them back, their performance against the Oakland A’s this season has told a slightly different story.
The Angels’ 2-0 loss to the A’s on Friday night was the second game in a row in which they didn’t score. They have scored just once in their last four games against the A’s.
For the season, the A’s have beaten the Angels in 11 of 14 games, and the Angels have hit just .218 and averaged 2.5 runs per game.
“They beat us because we don’t score any runs against them,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “We failed offensively against them, and we have to figure it out.”
The A’s have now pushed the Angels seven games back in the race for the second wild-card playoff spot in the American League.
Certainly, there are a couple of obvious reasons the Angels have had so much trouble hitting the A’s, mainly that Oakland has pretty good pitching. Chris Bassitt, who blanked them for seven innings on Friday night, was an All-Star this season, and he improved his ERA to 3.31.
“He’s a really good pitcher,” Maddon said. “For me, of all the pitchers in the American League, he’s one of the better right-handers. He’s under the radar, but he shouldn’t be.”
Secondly, the Angels have played all of their games so far against Oakland in the 10 weeks since Mike Trout has been on the injured list with a strained calf.
The Angels are currently without three-time AL MVP Trout, third baseman Anthony Rendon and All-Star first baseman Jared Walsh, who are all on the injured list.
The anemic offense wasted another strong start from a rotation that is finally showing signs of consistent reliability. The Angels’ starters have a 3.43 ERA in July.
One of the best has been Patrick Sandoval, who on Friday made his first appearance since losing a no-hitter with one out in the ninth last weekend.
Although he wasn’t as sharp as in his previous outing, he gave up just one run in 5-2/3 innings.
Sandoval, who lowered his ERA to 3.38, got himself into trouble with a season-high six walks, one of which was with the bases loaded to push home the only run he allowed. He escaped further damage with six strikeouts.
“I’m definitely frustrated to have six walks in a game,” Sandoval said. “That’s a very good lineup, very disciplined. They had a plan. They executed their plan. It’s about competing at the end and I was trying to get as deep as possible.”
In the second inning, he issued back-to-back walks to load the bases, but then he struck out Tony Kemp to retire the side, pumping his fist on his way off the mound.
Sandoval was finally pulled after throwing a career-high 115 pitches, finishing with another strikeout of Kemp.
“Give them credit for working good at-bats against him,” Maddon said. “Give Sandy credit for battling. This guy is growing leaps and bounds.”