TORONTO -- The Angels' offensive woes seemed to have followed them north of the border, as their scuffling bats once again showed little punch and couldn't overcome a costly first-inning error in a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays in Tuesday night's series opener at Rogers Centre.The Angels mustered only
TORONTO -- The Angels' offensive woes seemed to have followed them north of the border, as their scuffling bats once again showed little punch and couldn't overcome a costly first-inning error in a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays in Tuesday night's series opener at Rogers Centre.
The Angels mustered only three singles against Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ, who held them to two runs over seven innings. They are now hitting just .203 over their last 11 games and have gone 3-8 over that span, falling 4 1/2 games behind the Astros in the American League West. The Angels are 6-19 when they've been limited to three or fewer runs this season.
"We were just a little flat tonight, but we're not discouraged as a group," starter Garrett Richards said. "We know that we have to come and play again tomorrow, so I think that's what everybody's worried about right now."
The Angels' struggling lineup couldn't mask an untimely defensive miscue by Chris Young, who helped spur a five-run outburst for the Blue Jays by losing a fly ball in the lights with two outs in the first inning. Richards fell into trouble after yielding a one-out double to Josh Donaldson and walking Justin Smoak on a borderline pitch, and Teoscar Hernandez subsequently put Toronto on the board with an RBI single to center field.
After Kevin Pillar lined out, Richards induced a fly ball from Russell Martin and appeared to be on his way out of the inning, but the ball hit off Young's glove, allowing two more runs to score.
"Two strikes on him, I was pretty far over, closer to the line, playing a little shallow," Young said. "Running back on the ball, I tried my best, I looked back and it came across the lights just enough to where it kind of changed my depth perception on the ball, and I missed it. It's unfortunate."
Kendrys Morales then delivered the final blow, hammering a two-run homer to right field on a slider to extend the Blue Jays' lead to 5-0. Four of the five runs against Richards were unearned.
Richards allowed the leadoff batter to reach in three consecutive innings, but he used a pair of double plays to avoid further damage and departed after throwing 92 pitches over five innings. He walked two and struck out four. Richards was followed by relievers Noe Ramirez and Cam Bedrosian, who combined to fire three scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
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"I definitely had to battle tonight, but I felt good," Richards said. "I threw a lot of strikes. I made some good pitches that I didn't get rewarded for, but sometimes it's going to go that way."
The Angels inflicted their only damage against Happ in the fourth inning. Michael Trout drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on Justin Upton's single and scored on Jose Pujols' blooper to center field. The Angels added another run on Andrelton Simmons' RBI groundout to trim the Blue Jays' lead to 5-2.
They pulled within two after Martin Maldonado doubled off reliever Dennis Tepera and scored on Ian Kinsler's sacrifice fly in the eighth, but Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless ninth to lock down the win for the Blue Jays.
"We still tried to put some runs on the board and manufacture some runs," Young said. "I don't think the guys were deflated. It definitely sucks to make a mistake like that in the first inning to start the game and that kind of set the tempo of the game, but I think the guys did a good job turning the page and trying to battle back. We just couldn't get enough."
Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (3-3, 2.88 ERA) will oppose right-hander Aaron Sanchez (2-4, 4.47 ERA) on Wednesday as the Angels continue their three-game series with the Blue Jays at 4:07 p.m. PT at Rogers Centre. Skaggs was charged with the loss in his last start on Thursday after allowing one earned run over six innings against the Rays, but he's yielded two or fewer runs in each of his last five outings and has pitched to a 2.12 ERA over that span. In four career starts against the Blue Jays, Skaggs is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.