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Maddon after loss: 'We need to pitch better'

@RhettBollinger
August 1, 2020

The biggest question mark for the Angels coming into the year was their pitching, and one week into the 2020 season, those issues have already been apparent.

The biggest question mark for the Angels coming into the year was their pitching, and one week into the 2020 season, those issues have already been apparent.

Box score

After allowing a combined 18 runs in back-to-back losses to the Mariners, right-hander Matt Andriese and the bullpen struggled in a 9-6 loss to the Astros in the series opener on Friday night at Angel Stadium. Angels pitchers have a combined 5.25 ERA and their 2-6 record is the worst in the Majors. Their club ERA is the seventh-worst mark in the Majors.

"Obviously, it's not where you want to be," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "The good news is we actually pinpointed what we've got to get better at quickly. ... We need to pitch better, it's not complicated."

Andriese, who was coming off a solid outing in relief against the A's on Sunday that saw him throw 5 2/3 scoreless innings after Shohei Ohtani failed to record an out, couldn't replicate that success against Houston. Andriese lasted 1 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks with one strikeout.

Andriese’s troubles started in the second, when he loaded the bases with one out after he walked the leadoff batter. Kyle Tucker brought home two runs with a double before Andriese issued consecutive walks to bring home another run. José Altuve plated a run with an RBI groundout before Andriese hit Alex Bregman with an 89-mph sinker and was removed from the game.

“The walk to start the second inning started that whole thing,” Andriese said. “It kind of unraveled from there. I needed to make a pitch to stop the bleeding and continue the outing but I wasn’t able to find that.”

Andriese added that he believes his short outing made the relievers work earlier in the game than they were prepared for, which also led to the overall struggles on the night. It was a tough night for both club’s pitching staffs, as the two teams combined for 19 walks, which led to a four-hour and 21-minute game, the longest in Angel Stadium history.

"Me not going deep in the game put a lot of pressure on our bullpen," Andriese said. "It caught our bullpen by surprise a little bit. If I go deeper, it gives our team a better chance to win."

Reliever Cam Bedrosian scuffled in the fourth, allowing a leadoff single to Tucker, who stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Keynan Middleton replaced Bedrosian and allowed the inherited runner to score on a sacrifice fly from George Springer. Middleton had trouble in the fifth, allowing a leadoff double to Alex Bregman and a single to Michael Brantley before allowing a run on a sacrifice fly. After he surrendered another double, this one to Carlos Correa, he was removed for Ryan Buchter, who got out of the jam.

The Angels needed three relievers to get through the seventh and the defense didn’t help the cause. With one out, Michael Brantley reached on an error from shortstop Luis Rengifo before right fielder David Fletcher couldn’t handle a sinking liner from Yuli Gurriel for what was ruled a single. After Correa was walked to load the bases, Mike Mayers was replaced by Hoby Milner, who struck out Myles Straw but gave up a two-run single to Tucker. Kyle Keller was then brought in and was able to get out of the inning.

The inning was a microcosm of the Angels’ troubles in the game, as it was an ugly night that saw them walk seven, hit two batters, throw two wild pitches and make two errors. It spoiled a six-run night from the offense with Brian Goodwin homering, tripling and driving in three runs.

“We made too many mistakes,” Maddon said. “We gave up a couple runs there that were kind of the difference in the game. The Rengifo ball and then David dropping a fly ball, which isn’t going to happen again in the next decade. I have to believe these guys really aren't in midseason form, even though it's August. It's almost like the latter days of a regular Spring Training right now. So we got to stay with it.”

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.