'In a little rut': Angels drop 4th straight game and 8th of last 9

July 8th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- The good news for the Angels is that a much-needed five-day All-Star break begins for them on Sunday.

But the bad news is they’ve been in a tailspin to end the first half, as their 11-4 loss to the Dodgers in the Freeway Series opener on Friday night at Dodger Stadium was their fourth in a row and their eighth over their last nine games.

The Angels have now dropped 12 of their last 16 games to fall back to .500 at 45-45. It’s their first time at .500 since they were 30-30 on June 3, and they could head to the All-Star break with a losing record with a loss on Saturday.

“It's been rough,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “We have to play better. Just little things in a lot of different areas that need to get better. I'm making no excuses.”

Right-hander Griffin Canning struggled for a second straight outing and allowed three solo homers through 2 2/3 innings and would’ve given up another if Jo Adell didn’t rob Max Muncy of a blast with a leaping catch up against the center-field wall to end the second inning. It was a spectacular play by Adell, who was fired up after making the catch, but the Angels couldn’t capitalize on the momentum.

It was clear early that Canning didn’t have it, as he gave up a solo shot to Freddie Freeman in the first, another to J.D. Martinez in the second and a third one to Mookie Betts in the third. He couldn’t make it out of the inning, as he left after giving up a two-out double to Martinez.

“My stuff just wasn’t very sharp,” Canning said. “I was leaving my stuff up to good hitters and that’s what they do.”

Canning was charged with four runs on five hits and a walk and finished the first half of the season with a 4.62 ERA in 14 starts. He lowered his ERA to 3.99 with six scoreless innings in Colorado on June 24, but allowed nine runs over 8 2/3 innings in his last two starts.

Canning, though, said he’s not worried about his last two outings or the Angels’ recent slide.

“We’re in a little rut, but it’s a long season,” Canning said. “We’ll try to right the ship tomorrow and get our minds off things over the All-Star break and come back ready to go. You just have to have the perspective that it’s a long season.”

Lefty Tyler Anderson pitched in long relief because he wasn’t needed to start this weekend with lefty Reid Detmers taking the mound on Saturday. But Anderson also was hit hard by his former team, allowing three runs on four hits over 4 1/3 innings. Betts did the damage against him, ripping both a solo homer and a two-run double against his former teammate.

“There were a lot of balls hit hard off Griff early and we got to the second time through in the middle with a lot of lefties coming through, so I thought it was a good time for Tyler,” Nevin said. “I thought he threw the ball well. Mookie just got him and he’s as good as anybody right now.”

All four of the Angels’ runs scored via homers, as Mickey Moniak connected on a three-run blast in the fourth and Mike Moustakas smacked a solo shot in the seventh.

But it wasn’t enough for the banged-up Angels, who have recently lost superstar center fielder Mike Trout and infielders Anthony Rendon, Zach Neto, Brandon Drury and Gio Urshela to injury. Rendon and Neto should be ready to return shortly after the All-Star break, but Drury’s shoulder hasn’t been progressing as expected and he had further testing done on Friday.

“Even with the injuries we’ve sustained, we’ve got a good group here still,” Moniak said. “We can compete with anybody. It’s tough to miss so many key pieces, but we’ve still got to show up to the ballpark and make sure we’re all prepared.”

The Angels are hopeful Detmers can at least end the first half on a high note on Saturday, as he has a 1.42 ERA over his last five starts.

“You look for a stopper and we believe that we have that tomorrow in Reid,” Nevin said. “We just haven’t jumped out to very good starts. We're not scoring early, and when you get behind early, it puts a lot of pressure on people. There's a lot of areas we have to play much better and we're not doing that right now.”