Angels stifled by Keuchel as win streak ends
Trout breaks up no-hit bid in seventh; magic number remains at 4
ANAHEIM -- The Angels simply overheated on Sunday.
Despite a 6-1 loss to Houston -- one that snapped a season-high 10-game winning streak -- the red-hot Angels remained in the driver's seat in the American League West and in the fast lane toward the postseason, instead of stranded on the side of the road.
The Angels carried an 11-game division lead into Sunday's game, and their advantage shrunk to 10 games over Oakland, which beat Seattle. Still, the Angels are just days away from clinching the AL West, their magic number at 4 with just 13 games left. With their magic number to secure a playoff berth at 2, the Angels can punch their ticket to the postseason with a win over the Mariners on Monday night.
"No one's using the word luxury or anything like that around here," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're out here to win every game that we take the field, and hopefully, we'll start to get some momentum tomorrow."
After bashing their way to their longest winning streak in 12 years, the high-powered Angels offense that was on fire disappeared in a cloud of smoke, mustering just three hits as the temperature hovered in the mid-90s.
Astros starter Dallas Keuchel lost his perfect-game bid in the sixth after walking Chris Iannetta, and the lefty lost his no-hit bid in the seventh after giving up a single to Mike Trout. Both baserunners, however, were erased on double plays.
"We've been swinging the bat great," Trout said. "You're going to have times when you run into a guy that's throwing strikes and keeping us off-balance."
Keuchel threw seven-plus innings of one-run ball, and he was lifted after giving up back-to-back hits and a run in the eighth inning. He faced just 23 batters and recorded 21 outs in picking up his first win since July 30.
"This is the best team in baseball," Keuchel said. "I knew I had to be on my 'A' game."
During the Angels' 10-game winning streak, the offense was nearly unstoppable, averaging 8.6 runs per game and hitting .329. But the runs melted away Sunday and the Angels recorded their fewest hits in a game since Aug. 7.
"Wherever you are in the standings, you've got to turn the page on a game like this," Scioscia said. "You gotta throw it away."
Angels starter Hector Santiago struggled to record six outs, exiting in the third inning after loading the bases with no outs and throwing 82 pitches (38 strikes). Santiago walked five and gave up five hits as he escaped after surrendering only three runs. It was Santiago's shortest start of his career.
"When you throw 82 pitches and you only throw 38 strikes, it's not an outing you're going to win," Scioscia said. "He was very erratic with everything. ... Really had trouble commanding counts and letting his stuff play. It's just one of those games. He's been pitching fairly consistently for us, and today is one we're just going to turn the page on."
Santiago took his first loss in three months, and Sunday's performance snapped a string of 11 straight starts of at least five innings. He had a 2.61 ERA and a .243 batting average against over his last seven starts.
"You go out the last 10 or so games and it didn't really matter what I threw, it was kind of over the plate," Santiago said. "And today ... whatever I did, it didn't matter. It just wasn't going over the plate today."
Santiago said his outing was the wildest he's been in about five years, when he was just learning to be a starter. But he, too, is turning the page.
"I'm almost past it," Santiago said.
The Angels enlisted six relievers to clean up Santiago's mess, but the bullpen was unable to stop the bleeding. Cam Bedrosian gave up two runs and Jairo Diaz gave up another as the Astros opened up a 6-0 lead. By the time the Angels had a baserunner, Houston had already stranded 10 men.