Leadoff walks come back to bite Halos in Texas

August 22nd, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The Angels’ bullpen threw away another infuriating game Wednesday night in their final appearance at Globe Life Park, surrendering a walk-off for the third consecutive night to fall to the Rangers, 8-7, and drop the third of four games in the series.

Much of the Angels’ trouble late Wednesday was self-inflicted, as they walked the leadoff hitters in the seventh and eighth innings and uncorked three costly wild pitches over the final frames. Manager Brad Ausmus didn’t have an easy explanation for why the bullpen has faltered lately.

“Probably just ebbs and flows -- you’re not going to be great every single month,” Ausmus said. “I wouldn’t really attribute it to anything in particular other than just a down month.”

The Halos lost in walk-off fashion in the 11th inning on Monday night and on Tuesday in the nightcap of a doubleheader.

, the Angels’ sixth reliever on Wednesday, shouldered the latest loss. He gave up a leadoff single to Elvis Andrus, who took second and third on wild pitches and scored when Hunter Pence stroked a single through the hole to left.

The Angels’ bullpen relinquished a 7-4 lead starting in the seventh inning, when took over for Noe Ramirez, who tossed two scoreless innings. Cole issued a walk and allowed a single. Luis Garcia, brought in to face Pence, moved up the runners with a wild pitch and Pence singled both home.

Cole’s seventh-inning leadoff walk to the Rangers’ No. 9 hitter, catcher Jeff Mathis, was a decisive moment -- “probably what hurt the most,” in Ausmus’ words. Mathis entered the game hitting just .164, and Cole got ahead 0-2. He threw a cutter high and outside and then missed with three changeups low.

“I should’ve at least thrown a fastball in there at the end, but I’ve got one of the best changeups in the game, so for him to [take] three in a row, I’ll tip my cap,” Cole said. “I could have gone after him a little more, but honestly, I didn’t get hit hard. I’m actually throwing the ball in my opinion pretty well, so I’m not going to worry about it.”

In the eighth, Garcia also issued a leadoff walk, to rookie Nick Solak, and the Angels’ fifth reliever of the night, , gave up the tying single to Shin-Soo Choo.

Before the bullpen missteps, the Angels had given themselves a chance against the Rangers’ ace, Mike Minor, who entered with an elite 2.94 ERA. Los Angeles chased Minor from the game in the sixth after Max Stassi singled, David Fletcher doubled and Mike Trout drew an intentional walk, bringing Justin Upton to the plate with the bases loaded in a 4-4 tie. Upton lifted a shallow fly ball to left field, where the Rangers’ Willie Calhoun made the catch but sailed an off-target throw home to allow Stassi to score easily.

The Angels plated another run on the extended play, as Mathis threw to first trying to catch Trout off the bag. Fletcher rounded third and headed home as first baseman Danny Santana threw wildly to the plate for an error. That was it for Minor, who was charged with his seventh run (and only unearned run) when Kole Calhoun singled off reliever Locke St. John.

Halos starter Patrick Sandoval labored through only 3 1/3 innings, surrendering four earned runs on eight hits and three walks.

“I just didn’t make pitches at the right time and execute with two strikes,” Sandoval said. “Today, I felt like I was in rhythm the whole time. I don’t feel like I was rushing things. I controlled my emotions of the game. I just couldn’t execute on some pitches, and they executed on those miscues.”