Small mistakes squander Anderson's quality start

April 20th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- It was yet another strong start from left-hander , who has looked like a completely different pitcher than last season, but it was marred by several Angels miscues both defensively and on the bases.

Anderson allowed just two runs (one earned) over seven innings and has a 1.42 ERA through his first four starts, but it wasn’t enough in a 7-1 loss to the Reds in the series opener on Friday night at Great American Ball Park. The Angels simply didn’t do all the little things necessary to win before it unraveled for the bullpen in a five-run eighth inning, keyed by a three-run homer by Elly De La Cruz, who also stole three bases.

“Even though [De La Cruz] did all that, if we did what we were supposed to do in this game, it wouldn’t have mattered,” Angels manager Ron Washington said.

It started in the second inning, when Anderson induced a grounder up the middle from De La Cruz, but second baseman Luis Rengifo couldn’t handle it as it rolled into center field for a two-out single. De La Cruz then stole second base easily before swiping third and scoring on a throwing error from catcher Logan O’Hoppe.

Anderson, though, noted that he believed De La Cruz would’ve been out at third with a better throw.

“The one to third, Logan had him,” Anderson said. “The throw was just up the line, but I think the throw beat him there. In that situation, we would’ve been out of the inning and everything is great. You just don’t want to put him on base.”

The Angels then wasted a prime scoring opportunity in the third, as Jo Adell singled and stole second with two outs and Anthony Rendon hit a slow chopper down the third-base line. Rendon reached on an infield single, which would’ve brought up superstar Mike Trout, but Adell was too aggressive trying to score from second and was thrown out easily at home by first baseman Spencer Steer to end the inning.

Adell explained he was trying to push the envelope and spoke with third-base coach Eric Young Jr. about his decision-making after the play.

“With the backhand there, we were trying to push the issue there and make them make the perfect play,” Adell said. “Obviously, I got beat by a good amount of steps there. But they made the play. We were banking on the ball getting away or the throw going wild to give us a chance.”

In the fourth, Taylor Ward hit a deep drive to center field with one out, and center fielder Stuart Fairchild couldn’t quite make the play, briefly losing sight of where the ball dropped. But Ward didn’t hustle out of the box and jogged into second for a double. Miguel Sanó then hit a hard liner to shortstop, where De La Cruz caught the ball and was able to throw out Ward caught off second base for a double play. Washington, though, said he didn’t see if Ward hustled or not.

“I didn’t pay attention to that,” Washington said. ‘I was watching the ball, so you’ll have to make your own judgment on that.”

The Angels tied it in the fifth on an RBI single from Adell after Rengifo singled and stole second base. But the Reds took the lead for good in the sixth on a solo homer from Tyler Stephenson. It was one of only a few mistakes made by Anderson, who scattered three hits and three walks.

“I think I got away with some stuff out there, but in general, I just kind of wanted to go out and try to be in the zone as much as I could,” Anderson said. “Obviously, it didn't work out that way but just tried to stay in and give us a chance today.”

The Angels squandered another scoring chance in the seventh, when the Angels had two runners in scoring position with one out. Rengifo’s double chased lefty Nick Lodolo from the game, and the Reds brought in right-hander Fernando Cruz. The Angels stuck with Adell, but he struck out looking, and so did Zach Neto, to end the inning. They went 2-for-7 as a team with runners in scoring position.

Washington said he stuck with Adell over Mickey Moniak or Aaron Hicks because Adell was 2-for-2 entering his at-bat.

“In the seventh inning right there, he was swinging the bat well and we had only one out and the infield in,” Washington said. “I thought he was the perfect guy to get the ball to the outfield, but it just didn’t work out.”