Angels slip further behind playoff pack following sweep

August 7th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- The good news for the Angels is there are 49 games left in the season and there’s still plenty of baseball to be played.

But the bad news is they’re now on the fringe of postseason contention, even after they went all-in at Tuesday's Trade Deadline in their effort to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2014 with two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani set for free agency. After a four-game sweep at the hands of the Mariners, punctuated by a 3-2 loss in 10 innings on Sunday, the Angels have lost six in a row and haven’t won a game since the calender turned.

It dropped the Angels (56-57) back under .500 for the first time since July 17, and they now trail the Blue Jays by seven games for the last spot in the AL Wild Card race. They’re also 4 1/2 games behind the Mariners, 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees and two games behind the Red Sox. It’s an even worse predicament in the AL West, as they’re 10 1/2 games behind the Rangers and eight games back of the Astros.

“I know everybody’s now done with us and counting us out, but that’s fine,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “We have 26 guys in there plus staff and we’re still there. We still know what’s in front of us.”

It marked the first time the Angels were swept in four games by the Mariners since July 7-10, 2005, but it was even more frustrating because they were in all four games. They lost by a combined six runs, as the Angels failed to do the little things.

In the finale, they squandered a strong start from rookie Chase Silseth, who struck out a career-high 12 batters over seven strong innings. But the offense struggled, as the Angels went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

“Getting swept is never fun,” outfielder Mickey Moniak said. “But that’s baseball and we have to wake up tomorrow ready to go. But it’s tough on everybody. We’re trying to put in as much work as possible to be successful. It was just a tough series. We were in every game. And obviously not coming through with runners in scoring position is tough.”

Silseth, who is in the rotation because right-hander Griffin Canning is on the injured list with a left calf strain, did his part with a stellar showing, giving up just two runs on a pair of solo homers. He’s been on an impressive run, as he’s posted a 2.04 ERA over his last three outings with 26 strikeouts and three walks in 17 2/3 innings.

“His secondary pitches were really good,” Nevin said. “I thought he used his fastball perfectly. The velocity stayed even though he was battling some leg cramps. But he knew what we needed and we really needed seven innings out of him.”

Both times the Mariners scored off Silseth, the Angels quickly came back to tie it. Mike Moustakas knotted the game in the first with an RBI double off right-hander Bryce Miller, while Matt Thaiss evened the score at 2-2 in the seventh with a solo blast off reliever Trent Thornton.

But after Seattle took the lead in the 10th on an RBI single from Eugenio Suárez, the Angels couldn’t score. Nevin, however, was frustrated with home-plate umpire Junior Valentine’s strike zone, as Hunter Renfroe was rung up on a pitch outside the zone for the first out and Chad Wallach had a called second strike against him as well before he grounded out.

“Awful,” Nevin said. “There’s no other way to put it. We had our chances to score. It's not the call’s fault, but it certainly changes the dynamic of that inning. Terrible. But like I said, that's not the reason why we lost. We had chances to score. We had opportunities to put the bat on the ball and we didn't.”

The Angels have to regroup before hosting the Giants for three games ahead of a tough road trip against Texas and Houston. And they know they’re going to need to go on a run if they have any chance of getting back into the race.

“I think we just go out and play hard against San Francisco,” Wallach said. “That’s all we can do. And I know we will. We have a good group. We’re pretty good about that. We’ve obviously gone through some stuff. We had that tough stretch before the All-Star break and then played well after that. So it’s a tight-knit group and it helps us get through those situations.”