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Skaggs, Angels bit by homer bug in Chicago

@Russ_Dorsey1
April 12, 2019

CHICAGO -- Wrigley Field day games have given many pitchers nightmares of baseballs leaving the yard, and Angels starter Tyler Skaggs very quickly learned the cost of a few mistakes during Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Skaggs described his start Friday as “strangely solid,” and there may not

CHICAGO -- Wrigley Field day games have given many pitchers nightmares of baseballs leaving the yard, and Angels starter Tyler Skaggs very quickly learned the cost of a few mistakes during Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Skaggs described his start Friday as “strangely solid,” and there may not be a better description of his outing as a few pitches found their way into the bleachers.

At the end of the day, three misplaced pitches were all it took to turn Skaggs' start sour.

“Other than the home runs, I thought he pitched pretty well actually,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “I think the Cubs took advantage of a few mistakes and made him pay.”

The miscues

First Inning
“That first inning, they jumped on me early,” Skaggs said. "Made some really bad pitches; pitches that I didn’t execute well. It’s kind of a wake-up call. It’s frustrating. I felt like I was ready to go today. Warm-ups felt great. I went out there and got touched up. It happens."

The Cubs’ hitters made hard contact against Skaggs from his first pitch: Three of the first five hitters connected for exit velocities of more than 100 mph, including a 460-foot homer to Willson Contreras and a 472-foot solo shot to Anthony Rizzo.

“The [Rizzo] fastball, I wanted it low and outside. and it was middle, middle-in," Skaggs said. "And Contreras, curveball. Would have loved to have bounced it, or at least kept it low. I’d love to have ‘em back.”

Fourth Inning
The final miscue during Skaggs' outing came in the fourth inning when Cubs second baseman David Bote took an elevated 1-1 fastball out to the bleachers in left.

“Third home run, tip my cap. Thought it was a pretty decent pitch. I think those home runs are gone in any ballpark,” Skaggs said. “Next time I pitch here, I hope it’s extra windy. I’ll get them then."

The success

Despite the home runs mixed into his start, what may be lost is the success Skaggs was able to find following the first inning, specifically missing bats. The Angels’ left-hander was able to shake the rocky first and strike out the side in the second.

“I thought we located the curveball really well after the first inning,” Skaggs said. “Really tried to keep the ball down.”

Skaggs threw 80 pitches and induced 10 swinging strikes from his fastball, curveball and changeup. Four of his seven strikeouts following the first inning were swinging-strike outs as he found the rhythm that eluded him early.

The changes didn’t go unnoticed as Cubs manager Joe Maddon could even see the change from the opposing dugout.

“You saw it once he settled down. This guy's really good,” Maddon said. “So, I'm really pleased that we got on him quickly, because if we had not, I'm certain that he would've pitched at least five, six innings with that curveball and changeup. Once he got a feel for that, he got a lot more difficult."

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.