Thor's strong start can't halt Halos' skid

June 7th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- The Angels got a strong outing from  on Monday, and  ended the longest drought of his career with a first-inning single that snapped an 0-for-26 skid.

That’s where the good news ended for the Halos, who were shut out in their return home to Angel Stadium, falling 1-0 to the Red Sox and extending their losing streak to 12 games. That ties the franchise’s single-season record, set when they lost the final 12 games of the 1988 season. They also lost Opening Day in 1989, making the overall franchise record 13 consecutive losses, from Sept. 19, 1988-April 4, 1989.

“It’s a frustrating loss,” said manager Joe Maddon. “We’ve had several of those. Losing 12 in a row is one thing, but the way we’ve lost them is really excruciating at times.”

Sure enough, the Angels have lost in just about every way imaginable during this stretch. There have been one-run losses and blowouts. They’ve relinquished leads late and also had games where they were never really in it. But it’s hard to imagine a more exasperating scenario than Monday night’s. Finally back home after a grueling stretch of seven games in six days on the road in New York and Philadelphia, it seemed like a golden opportunity to start anew.

And Syndergaard did his part, rebounding nicely from his tough outing vs. the Yankees last Tuesday. The one run charged to him came on a two-out single in the second by Christian Vázquez. Besides that, he did a good job scattering the seven baserunners he allowed (five hits, a walk, a hit-by-pitch). Syndergaard was sharp as well, throwing 71 of his 99 pitches for strikes, even if he wasn’t as deceptive as he usually is, striking out three and recording just six swings and misses.

Maddon felt Syndergaard got better as the night went on, while Syndergaard, who says he treats his starts as “meditations,” was encouraged by his bounce-back performance.

“I felt good delivery-wise, had a good rhythm going,” said Syndergaard. “[My] slider is getting better; overall, there’s just conviction. The execution of the pitches is getting better. So I just got to carry that into my next start.”

Syndergaard is still working to regain the velocity he had prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020, and Monday seemed like a step in the right direction on that front. His four-seamer maxed out at 96.2 mph and averaged 94.3 mph, his highest marks since his first two starts of the season.

“I’m still building up, just more so focusing and trusting my delivery,” said Syndergaard. “As the season goes on, I think it’ll creep up more and more, just as I get more comfortable with my delivery.”

But Syndergaard’s outing was for naught, as the Angels’ offense was completely stymied by right-hander Michael Wacha in his shutout effort. Trout’s single was one of just three hits Wacha allowed; the first was also the only frame in which Wacha allowed multiple baserunners. At one point, he retired 15 Angels batters in a row.

So once again, the Angels are left searching for answers. They lost to the Phillies on Sunday when their bullpen faltered by giving up two big home runs late. Then, they didn’t find a way to push any offense across on a night when their starter and the relief corps were both excellent.

What, then, are the Angels telling themselves as they try to avoid setting a rather dubious franchise record on Tuesday?

“Things like this can change on a dime,” said Maddon. “They can’t if you quit. If you give up, if you succumb mentally, it can’t happen. And that’s the message. You got to come out here and you have to beat the day somehow, and that only comes through a real strong sense of self. And purely, it comes down to the point of not quitting.”