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Angels depart Cleveland with bats still on ice

August 4, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Earlier this weekend, Angels manager Brad Ausmus noted that a sure-fire way to make a club appear lethargic is to struggle to put runs on the board. The lack of much offense this weekend by Los Angeles hitters certainly helped prove Ausmus’ words. The Angels managed just seven

CLEVELAND -- Earlier this weekend, Angels manager Brad Ausmus noted that a sure-fire way to make a club appear lethargic is to struggle to put runs on the board. The lack of much offense this weekend by Los Angeles hitters certainly helped prove Ausmus’ words.

The Angels managed just seven runs in the three-game sweep by the Indians at Progressive Field, as the Halos dropped the finale, 6-2, stretching the Angels’ losing skid to four games.

Box score

“We’re in a rough patch right now,” outfielder Kole Calhoun said. “We need a little something to go our way and get back on the winning side of things and get this ball back rolling.”

Los Angeles, which has dropped eight of its last 10 matchups, finished just 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position this weekend, stranding a total of 17 runners against Cleveland’s staff. The only offense against Tribe starter Shane Bieber on Sunday came in the form of an Albert Pujols RBI single in the fourth and a Calhoun solo homer in the seventh.

“I’ve had some big spots to get a big hit for this club lately and I haven’t been coming through,” Calhoun said. “It felt nice to get ahold of one, but it would have been nice if it were earlier in the game.”

Of course, part of the credit goes to the Indians’ pitching, highlighted by Bieber’s complete-game effort against the Angels in the finale. The All-Star righty limited the Halos to just five hits and struck out eight to lower his season ERA to 3.31.

While the Angels won’t lose sight of the competition that they faced, Ausmus doesn’t want to stand behind Bieber’s performance as an excuse.

“We saw some good pitching here,” Ausmus said. “But we’ve also faced some pitchers we felt like we should have scored more runs off of. I think it’s a combination.”

To make matters worse this weekend, a losing opener Friday and Felix Pena’s ACL tear in Saturday’s affair continued to put added strain on a thinning Angels pitching staff. It appeared the team would be further tested when starter Jaime Barria left the field in the bottom of the second inning due to an unknown problem with his right foot.

Barria would return to the field minutes later. Soon, it was revealed that the righty was dealing with a blister on his right big toe, an issue that Barria said was foreign to him.

“It was kind of heating up on him,” Ausmus said. “He was having discomfort when he pitched. So we -- the trainers -- they put something in his shoe to reduce the friction. That seemed to do the trick. It didn’t bother him the rest of the day.”

Barria exited at the 89-pitch mark in the fourth. He allowed five hits and three runs, walking three and striking out six in 3 2/3 innings. All of the runs came courtesy of a trio of homers.

“Pitch count and solo home runs is what hurt,” Ausmus said. “Other than that, he did fine.”

Unfortunately, the Halos would have another scare in the fifth when reliever Luke Bard -- promoted Sunday as part of a slew of roster moves -- was struck on the back of the right arm by a liner off the bat of Indians first baseman Carlos Santana.

Thankfully, Bard escaped with just a right triceps contusion.

“I think I’m all right,” Bard said, flexing his right arm. “It hit that nerve and [the pain] kind of shot down my hand. It’s kind of swollen and stuff, but I think I’m all right.

“Thank goodness it wasn’t a little bit lower. It would have been right on the bone.”

Overall, the sweep dropped the Angels to 56-57 this season, sinking below .500 for the first time since July 12 and seemingly erasing their 9-3 start out of the All-Star break. The loss also marked the Halos’ fourth straight game of being limited to three or fewer runs, matching their longest streak this season from March 30-April 2.

“We definitely ran into a good pitching staff, we knew that,” Calhoun said. “They’ve been hot. They’ve been swinging the bats well, really clicking on all cylinders for a couple of months now. We just didn’t come out here and get it done on both sides of the ball.”