HOUSTON -- The front side was flaring open, the sinker was tailing off the plate and the counts were hardly ever in his favor. By the end of it, Jhoulys Chacin had recorded six outs and issued five walks, charged with six runs (five of them earned) in a two-plus-inning
HOUSTON -- The front side was flaring open, the sinker was tailing off the plate and the counts were hardly ever in his favor. By the end of it, Jhoulys Chacin had recorded six outs and issued five walks, charged with six runs (five of them earned) in a two-plus-inning outing that sunk the Angels in an eventual 10-7 loss to the Astros at an enclosed Minute Maid Park on Monday night.
Only two other men -- Shelby Miller of the D-backs on April 21 and Jake Peavy of the Giants on April 29 -- have lasted only two innings and issued as many as five walks this season.
For Chacin, it was the culmination of a detrimental trend.
"I need to figure things out," said Chacin, his ERA ballooned to 5.50. "I need to keep working and get back to who I used to be, especially throwing strikes. That's the biggest thing for me. I haven't thrown enough strikes; I haven't been able to control my pitches, especially my sinker. I need to figure things out."
At his best, Chacin pounds the lower third of the strike zone and generates an abundance of groundball outs, a skill that was evident when he pitched seven innings of two-run ball in Seattle on May 14 and when he threw nine innings of one-run ball against the Tigers on May 30.
Since then, though, Chacin -- acquired from the Braves on May 11 -- has been charged with 17 runs in 17 1/3 innings, a span in which he has given up 26 hits, issued 13 walks and struck out a mere seven batters. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said his six-week stint with the Angels has been "almost like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, because you see some games where you go 'wow.'"
And then there are nights like Monday, when Chacin threw only 37 of his 72 pitches for strikes and fell behind on 11 of the 17 batters he faced, dealing with three-ball counts seven times.
It began with a five-pitch walk to Astros leadoff hitter George Springer, then a 1-2 cutter that struck the left knee of the man who followed him, Marwin Gonzalez. Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez smacked two-out RBI singles later in that first inning, which put the Angels in a 3-0 hole. Chacin avoided trouble in the second, when Jose Altuve's sharp grounder resulted in an inning-ending double play, but he put the first five batters on in the third and promptly exited.
Carlos Correa walked; Rasmus and Gomez each singled, first with a bunt and then with a blooper; Luis Valbuena ripped a double off the glove of a sprinting Kole Calhoun, the Gold Glove Award-winning right fielder who had just committed two errors; and Evan Gattis lined a base hit to center.
Chacin rarely got in the favorable counts that would've allowed him to utilize his secondary pitches.
The Astros eventually just waited on him to throw fastballs out over the plate.
"I felt weird," Chacin said. "I felt like I couldn't control my pitches. The ball was moving well, but I couldn't throw it where I was supposed to throw it."
Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast.