Angels drop sixth straight against Rangers
Scioscia holds team meating after Texas swipes six bags
ANAHEIM -- The Angels' list of problems in 2013 is long and unrelenting, from Josh Hamilton's slump to Albert Pujols' foot, starting pitching concerns, key bullpen injuries and an overall dropoff defensively. One issue that has mostly flown under the radar, perhaps because so many others exist, lies in this team's inability to control the running game.
On Tuesday night, the Rangers brought that to the forefront, using six stolen bases to beat the Angels for the sixth straight time.
And Angels manager Mike Scioscia -- a former catcher who's a stickler about this sort of thing -- was not happy.
"If this is going to become an Instructional League," Scioscia said after an 8-3 loss that prompted a team meeting, "we need to make some changes. Because guys up here should be able to do a better job."
The Angels had just allowed their most stolen bases in a nine-inning game since May 3, 1992 -- putting their season total at a Major League-leading 94 -- to give up their most runs without an extra-base hit since May 5, 1988. Those steals, Scioscia emphasized, were "not on Chris [Iannetta] at all."
"Chris," Scioscia added about his catcher, "is throwing the ball well."
The only runner Iannetta threw out on Tuesday was on a pickoff play. For the year, he's thrown out only 11 of 82, putting his caught-stealing percentage at a Major League-low 13.4 percent. But Scioscia believes the problem has more to do with his pitchers' times to the plate.
"Some guys have a poor rhythm, some guys have a high leg kick, some guys have the same rhythm where runners are getting a jump," Scioscia said. "And as much as we've talked about it or worked on it, some guys are having trouble making adjustments. Rangers are going to take advantage of it, a lot of teams are going to take advantage of it, and they have this year."
Garrett Richards pitched well, giving up three runs in six innings to put his ERA at 2.50 in three starts since taking Joe Blanton's spot in the rotation. And the Angels opened the first inning against Yu Darvish with back-to-back homers by Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout, who reached base for a 37th consecutive game to pass Chili Davis for the record among Angels outfielders.
It was the second time in team history that the first two hitters in their lineup had homered to start a game -- and it marked the end of the Angels' highlights.
Josh Hamilton flied out with runners on the corners and two outs in the seventh with the score tied at 2, making him 2-for-21 on this homestand and putting his batting average with runners in scoring position at .167 for the season. In the next half-inning, Scioscia chose to pitch to Adrian Beltre with a runner on third, one out and the infield in, and the veteran third baseman sneaked a grounder through to give the Rangers (64-50) a one-run lead.
And in the ninth, the wheels came off. The Rangers batted around against Nick Maronde and Ernesto Frieri -- members of an Angels bullpen that has a 5.89 ERA since the All-Star break -- to plate four runs, the most the Angels have allowed in the ninth this season. Beltre, Elvis Andrus and A.J. Pierzynski each had RBI singles. Craig Gentry scored from second on an infield single to the right side, crossing home plate while Maronde was busy arguing a call at first base. And, fittingly, two more stolen bases were recorded.
"They were holding us on," Andrus said, "but they were a little slow to the plate so we waited for our opportunities and took advantage of it."
The six stolen bases allowed -- one shy of the club record, done three times -- was far from the Angels' only problem on Tuesday, which saw them fall to 10 games below .500 and 7-for-12 since the All-Star break.
But it's a problem that hasn't gone away.
"It's a three-part play," said Iannetta, who also played a part in three wild pitches. "I have to do everything I can to control my aspect of it. That's a clean transfer, quick release and make a good throw to second base. I felt like I was able to make some good throws."
"We've been trying to be better as a pitching staff as far as getting our times to the plate better to give our catchers a better chance at throwing guys out," Richards added. "Tonight that wasn't the case, obviously."
In Scioscia's previous 13 years as Angels skipper, the Angels have allowed more stolen bases than they've picked up only two times, in 2000 and 2010. This year will be No. 3, as they've stolen 54 bases and allowed 94.
It's one of many problems this year, but also a big one.
"Some things have gotten away from guys, and we need to get more proficient at that," Scioscia said. "There's absolutely no doubt about that. And we will."