Homers continue to plague Shoemaker
Right-hander allows 2 more to add to league-leading total
TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson's seventh-inning line drive bounced off the very top of Rogers Centre's left-center-field fence on Thursday night, putting a sour end on another rough outing for Angels starter Matt Shoemaker. Had it traveled about six inches higher, it would've marked the 14th home run Shoemaker had given up this season, which meant he would've matched last year's mark in 91 2/3 fewer innings.
Shoemaker's actual total, an American League-leading 13 homers allowed, is still way too high.
"It's not good," Shoemaker said after the Angels' 8-4 loss to the Blue Jays. "If I could give up one solo one a game the rest of my career, that'd be great. It seems like every time I get a guy on base, he scores. That's a struggle."
In the finale of a four-game series, Shoemaker gave up a solo homer to Danny Valencia in the third and a long three-run shot to Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth. He was charged with eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits and two walks in six-plus innings, putting his ERA at 6.29.
"Everything's kind of going bad right now," Shoemaker said. "I just have to find a way to get out of it."
Shoemaker has shown flashes, like the 10-strikeout game he had against the Mariners on May 4 or the seven innings of one-run ball he threw against the Orioles last Saturday.
But the 28-year-old right-hander has mostly struggled to consistently locate his pitches down in the strike zone, the skill most responsible for his breakout season in 2014. Last year, Shoemaker's ground-ball percentage was 41.7. Heading into Thursday's start, it was 29.1 percent, lowest among the 124 pitchers who had thrown at least 35 innings this year.
"That's [pitching coach Mike Butcher's] mantra with Shoe, to try to get a little bit of angle and get his fastball in good spots," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Shoemaker, who got seven of his 18 outs on the ground Thursday.
"It's in there. He just needs to find that consistency."
Shoemaker believes he's missing up "more than usual."
"I've elevated some balls," Shoemaker said, "and they've been getting hit."
Shoemaker's velocity was slightly down early in the year, but his fastball is back between 89 and 91 mph. He attributed his most recent success in Baltimore to being in "attack mode," and believes he carried that into his latest start. But he's still getting mixed results, after being a model of consistency while going 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 2014.
"I have to turn it around quick," Shoemaker said. "There's really no other way to say it other than it has to be done quicker to help this team out. I don't want to keep putting us in a bad situation."