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Rengifo's big night isn't enough in the end

Rookie has three hits, with a homer, but Buttrey pays for "bad sliders"
@RhettBollinger
June 21, 2019

TORONTO -- Locked in a tie game after his team had erased an early deficit, Angels manager Brad Ausmus wanted to avoid using Ty Buttrey, if possible, to give the club’s best reliever some much-needed rest. The plan was for closer Hansel Robles to throw the ninth and 10th innings,

TORONTO -- Locked in a tie game after his team had erased an early deficit, Angels manager Brad Ausmus wanted to avoid using Ty Buttrey, if possible, to give the club’s best reliever some much-needed rest.

The plan was for closer Hansel Robles to throw the ninth and 10th innings, but after Robles struck out the side in the ninth on 15 pitches, he indicated he was done to the coaching staff and so they turned to Buttrey for the 10th. He uncharacteristically struggled, however, surrendering a leadoff single and then a walk-off, two-run homer to Billy McKinney in a 7-5 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday night at Rogers Centre.

“He's been as rock solid as we have so something like this is bound to happen to everybody once in a while,” Ausmus said. “I guess the silver lining was that it happened quick and it wasn't a lot of pitches thrown."

Box score

Buttrey, who entered with a 2.02 ERA In 34 appearances this year, threw only five pitches in the inning, as Randall Grichuk singled on a third-pitch slider and McKinney’s game-winning homer came on an 0-1 slider. It spoiled their chance to complete a four-game sweep over Toronto and improve to two games above .500 for the first time this season.

"I feel great [physically]," Buttrey said. "Just a bad pitch. Both the first base hit and the home run, two bad sliders trying to locate down in the zone. Trying to execute a pitch and both those guys recognized it early and they capitalized."

Offense helps Angels get back in it

The Angels got on the board in the second on a two-run homer from rookie Luis Rengifo, who had career bests for a single game with three hits and three RBIs. Rengifo turned on a 1-1 fastball off lefty Clayton Richard for his second homer of his career and his first as a right-handed batter.

Rengifo helped the Angels chip away again in the fifth, leading off with a single and eventually scoring on an RBI groundout from Wilfredo Tovar after a double from Dustin Garneau.

"He had a good night,” Ausmus said of Rengifo. “He hit the ball hard, hit the home run. He's starting to settle down. He's not chasing as much as he once was through that stretch.”

Garneau, though, was easily thrown out at home when trying to advance on a ball that briefly got past catcher Luke Maile for the second out.

"It's tough,” Ausmus said. “Because of the angle down the line where the ball is moving, he can't tell the separation from the catcher. I think in his mind it was tipping off the catcher's glove and going all the way to the screen. I can't really blame him.”

In the sixth, the Angels loaded the bases with nobody out and Rengifo came through with an RBI single to right on a 3-1 fastball from reliever Joe Biagini to make it a one-run game. But the Angels stranded three runners from there --Garneau struck out, pinch-hitter Shohei Ohtani grounded into a fielder’s choice with the Blue Jays getting the out at home and David Fletcher flied out to end the scoring opportunity.

Mike Trout, coming off his seven-RBI performance on Wednesday, finally tied it in the seventh, as he walloped a leadoff double off Tim Mayza, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly from Albert Pujols.

But Trout couldn’t come through with two on and two out in the eighth and the Angels never threatened after that.

Suarez scuffles

The offense helped make up for a shaky start from rookie lefty Jose Suarez, who made it through five innings, but was charged with five runs on eight hits, including three homers. He served up a two-run shot to Teoscar Hernandez as part of a three-run first before giving up a solo homer to Eric Sogard in the second and another solo blast to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the fifth.

“At the start, I wanted to go too fast,” Suarez said through an interpreter. “I was too careful with my pitches, wanting to locate them. In the first inning, my changeup wasn’t working too well.”

Suarez saw his ERA rise to 5.57 from 4.50 after his fourth career start. With Trevor Cahill nearing a return, there's a chance Suarez could be sent to the Minors before his next outing.

“They put some good swings on him,” Ausmus said. “Good swings on every pitch really. Hit the changeup hard a couple times, the breaking ball hard a couple times. Kinda had his number. I just don’t think he had his best command.”

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.