BALTIMORE -- It was yet another frustrating road trip for the Angels.
They were swept in four games by the Orioles with a 9-5 loss on Sunday at Camden Yards, and they went 1-8 on their nine-game trip through Houston, Miami and Baltimore. Their lone win was the game that two-way star Shohei Ohtani started against the Marlins on Wednesday. Over their last 35 games, the Angels are 5-0 when Ohtani starts but 6-24 when he's not on the mound. The Angels started the year with a 27-17 record but have gone 11-32 since, which is the worst record in the Majors dating back to May 16.
"It's been tough,” said Mike Trout, who went 1-for-4. “We still have the second half. You can't have your head down. You have to stay positive. We come in every day and try to win. But obviously, it's not going in our favor."
The fifth inning was a perfect microcosm of their recent struggles, as the Angels were unable to score with two runners on in the top of the inning and made several miscues in the bottom half.
The Angels were trailing by two runs and had runners at second and third with one out, only for Monte Harrison to strike out and Taylor Ward to ground out to end the inning. They've had trouble with situational hitting, especially during a road trip that saw them average just 2.5 runs per nine innings with 20 combined runs in nine games.
But it was even uglier in the bottom of the fifth with reliever Elvis Peguero on the mound. Peguero allowed a one-out single to Trey Mancini, and it unraveled from there. Ryan Mountcastle reached on an error by third baseman Jonathan Villar to put two runners on with one out.
After an RBI double by Ryan Mountcastle, the Angels allowed one run to score on a passed ball and another on a wild pitch in the span of four pitches. Adley Rutschman then smacked a hard-hit ball that David MacKinnon couldn’t handle, though it was ruled a hit.
Peguero promptly balked to allow Rutschman to reach second, and he scored on a single by Ramón Urías that made it a six-run game. The inning essentially put the game away for the Orioles and erased any early momentum the Angels had after a two-run homer from Harrison in the third inning.
"It's frustrating,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. “We didn't play a very sound defensive game in a couple spots. Peguero is a tough guy to catch. I thought about walking Adley, but with the shift, it wasn't really a double play situation. But the passed ball and wild pitch hurt."
Stassi, who later hit a two-run homer in the eighth, took the blame for the two balls that got away and allowed the Orioles to score.
"I've got to make those plays, plain and simple,” Stassi said. “The passed ball darted on me late, but I have to catch that. And the slider, that's a play I make 99 out of 100 times. I have to complete that play. So I just have to learn from it."
Stassi reiterated that the Angels have been working hard to try to turn around the season, but things just haven’t been going their way. Nevin echoed those statements and said Los Angeles didn’t play a clean enough game to win on Sunday.
But it doesn’t get any easier for the Angels. The next teams they face are the Astros and Dodgers before the All-Star break, then they head to Atlanta for a three-game series against the Braves to open the second half of the season.
The Angels are a season-worst 11 games under .500 after being 11 games over on May 15. They earned the dubious honor of joining the 2019 Mariners as the only two clubs in AL or NL history to be both 11 games under .500 and 11 games over .500 before the All-Star break.
"We have to keep grinding,” Nevin said. “I know what it looks like right now, and I know where we're at. We have some good players. We've started to see some good things here and there, but they're compounded by things that wipes them out. We're a team that needs to play crisp, sound baseball, and we didn't do that today."