Angels unable to capitalize on RISP en route to extra-innings loss

May 19th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- As the Angels found out Saturday night, it’s not easy to win when you go 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position.

The Angels had plenty of opportunities and received a strong overall showing from the pitching staff, including lefty Patrick Sandoval, but they simply couldn’t cash in. It led to a frustrating 3-2 loss to the Rangers in 13 innings at Globe Life Field that ended on a hit by pitch with the bases loaded.

“Thirteen just wasn’t our lucky number,” manager Ron Washington said. “It was just one of [those] nights. We put ourselves in position to have opportunities and we just didn't get it done. That’s all. We had more opportunities than them. It’s tough when you go that far and have that many opportunities, but you just can’t cash them in.”

The Angels had their chances in extras but couldn’t deliver against relievers David Robertson and Yerry Rodríguez, who both threw two scoreless frames.

It marked the first time the Angels went 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position since Sept. 13, 1997 against the Royals.

“It’s very frustrating,” said shortstop Zach Neto. “I gotta be better myself when I get those opportunities, but I just didn't come through. But I feel like if we get this opportunity again next time, I feel like we'll have a better understanding of how to handle it.”

It spoiled strong showings from closer Carlos Estévez, who threw two scoreless innings in extras, as well as Carson Fulmer, who threw a shutout 12th inning and came back out for the 13th.

With runners at first and third with one out, the Angels opted to intentionally walk Corey Seager to load the bases for Nathaniel Lowe. But Fulmer hit Lowe on a first-pitch sinker to end the game. Washington, though, said it wasn’t a difficult decision to walk Seager in that situation.

“It was very easy,” Washington said. “The winning run was at third base and I wasn’t going to let Seager beat me. I wasn’t going to let him swing the bat.”

It also took away from a strong start from Sandoval, who has looked like a different pitcher since the calendar turned to May.

After carrying a 6.33 ERA through six starts through March and April, he’s posted a 2.63 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 24 innings in four May outings and has a 4.59 ERA on the year. Sandoval gave up just one run on three hits while striking out five in six innings. He’s tried to be more assertive on the mound, while also not trying to suppress his emotions.

“I feel like my tempo is better and I’m finally pitching the way I want to pitch,” Sandoval said. “I’m throwing the way I know is effective for me.”

Sandoval was handed a one-run lead in the fourth, coming on a solo homer from Taylor Ward. It was the 10th homer of the season for Ward, who is now tied for the team lead with injured superstar Mike Trout.

Sandoval cruised through the first five innings and was helped by a nice defensive play from first baseman Nolan Schanuel to end the fifth. With a runner at first, Marcus Semien hit a high pop in foul ground and Schanuel covered 89 feet to make the running grab to get Sandoval through the frame.

His toughest test came in the sixth, when he had to face the heart of the Rangers' order for a third time and was at 84 pitches. He got Seager to ground out to Neto on a 2-1 sinker, but the Rangers challenged the play, as they believed Neto was shifted illegally at shortstop. But after a review, the call stood, although it did have the effect of making Sandoval wait out the decision at the mound.

Sandoval, though, struck out Nathaniel Lowe on a 3-2 changeup for the second out. It brought up Adolis García and Sandoval fell behind on a 2-1 count. He served up a solo shot to García to tie the game.

Washington came to the mound but opted to leave Sandoval in despite being at 98 pitches. Sandoval rewarded his skipper by getting Jonah Heim to fly out to left on a first-pitch sinker.

“Sandoval did a great job,” Washington said. “He's been battling. He’s been breaking in that changeup more often with his slider. And he’s been getting his fastball in against lefties. I just wish we could have put more runs on board for him because with the way he pitched, he certainly deserved a better fate.”