HOUSTON -- Angels' closer Huston Street took the mound with a one-run lead in Tuesday's ninth inning and came away thinking it was "probably the best I've felt all season."If his full-count slider to George Springer is called a strike, or if Jose Altuve's grounder doesn't bounce off third base,
HOUSTON -- Angels' closer Huston Street took the mound with a one-run lead in Tuesday's ninth inning and came away thinking it was "probably the best I've felt all season."
If his full-count slider to George Springer is called a strike, or if Jose Altuve's grounder doesn't bounce off third base, or if Carlos Correa doesn't somehow lay off a two-strike pitch that barely missed the inside corner, perhaps the results are completely different.
But the Astros loaded the bases with nobody out, and Correa smoked a line drive into the right-center-field gap, and the Angels lost again, their 3-2 loss at Minute Maid Park giving them 40 losses in 71 games and keeping them 14 1/2 games out of first place.
"All I really care about is whether I got the job done," Street said. "I didn't get the job done tonight, and I'm pretty [upset] about it."
Street has allowed five runs in five-plus innings since returning from a five-week stint on the disabled list, giving up nine hits, walking six batters and striking out only four. In two outings, he loaded the bases and didn't give up any runs. In two others, he pitched 1-2-3 innings. And in two others, he blew saves.
"I know when I'm off," Street said, "and I'm not really that far off right now."
More troubling, perhaps, is how well this collection of Astros' hitters seem to match up against him.
Street has allowed 20 baserunners and recorded 31 outs against Houston since the start of the 2015 season, posting a 9.58 ERA and blowing three saves. And the 32-year-old right-hander doesn't necessarily believe in the randomness of matchup stats that are usually based on small sample sizes.
"There are certain teams that take good swings off you," Street said. "But I don't think about it. I feel like my stuff matches up well against them. I feel like they've taken some good at-bats. It is what it is. I haven't pitched well against the Astros."
Street took the ball with a 2-1 lead and promptly walked Springer, barely missing on a low, 3-2 breaking ball that he felt home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom should have called a strike.
"But that's the game," Street said. "Sometimes they miss them."
Street didn't get another call on a low, 2-1 sinker to Marwin Gonzalez, which crossed through nearly the exact same spot from the prior pitch that was deemed a strike. Gonzalez worked another walk, and Altuve chopped the first pitch he saw down the third-base line, off the bag and directly in front of a diving Yunel Escobar to load the bases.
Seven pitches later, the count was full again and Street needed to throw a strike.
He left an 88-mph sinker out over the plate, and Correa kept his hands in and drove it the other way, and the Angels moved to 7-12 in June.
Five hours earlier, Angels manager Mike Scioscia frequently mentioned "the process" when asked about the urgency his team must feel to go on a run and avoid a sell-off in July.
"Our challenge," he said, "is the process."
Scioscia and Street are like-minded in this sense, never paying much attention to the grander picture and focusing instead on the details directly in front of them. That is the process. And trusting it means believing the results will ultimately be favorable if the process is right.
Street took that approach with his ninth inning.
"There are a lot of subtle shifts in the game," he said. "You just have to trust that next time they'll swing at that pitch, and you just have to trust that next time the umpire will call it a strike. And if you make that same pitch down and away to Altuve, it's not going to hit the bag before it goes into your fielder's glove. I can't change those things. But I felt like the ball came out of my hand well. But I still blew the save. I didn't get the job done."
Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.