Maddon confident in Halos despite struggles

August 10th, 2020

It’s become a familiar trend for the scuffling Angels this season, as they’ve struggled to hit with runners on base. That was again the case in a 7-3 loss to the Rangers on Sunday at Globe Life Field.

The Halos were swept in the three-game series, falling to 5-11, and they'll now face the American League West-leading A’s and the powerful Dodgers in their next two series.

The Angels went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine on base. They’re hitting just .203 (26-for-128) in those situations this season, which included going 1-for-18 during this series.

"If we had just won one of these three, we would have gone on a .500 road trip, which is the minimum you always are trying to look for,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “We still had opportunities. We've got to score some more runs, we've got to put the other team on the defensive. We haven't been able to do that. And it wasn't a clean game by any means on our part. It was not our best three games for sure.”

It doesn’t get any easier with this week's upcoming schedule, but Maddon believes the club can turn it around despite the slow start.

“I'm confident that we will,” Maddon said. “I know there's a lot more offense to this team. I know there is. I think we've seen positive stuff with the pitching. And the defense also can be tightened up a bit, so the things that we haven't done well, we're capable of doing a lot better, so that's where I get my confidence from.”

The Angels' woes with runners on base began in the first inning, when Anthony Rendon came to the plate with two on and one out. The third baseman has had some early offensive struggles with his new team, and he struck out swinging against Lance Lynn to end the inning. Rendon went 0-for-3, lowering his average to .103.

In the second, Brian Goodwin was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, before Jason Castro doubled with two outs. But Castro was stranded with Luis Rengifo flying out to left.

Tommy La Stella ended the Angels’ 18-inning scoreless streak with a two-run homer off Lynn in the fifth, his first of the season, but homers haven’t been an issue for Los Angeles. The Halos have hit 24 home runs, fifth most in the Majors.

The homer also came after the Angels went down, 5-0, with left-hander Andrew Heaney faring well early before running into trouble in the fourth, when the Rangers scored four runs. Heaney allowed catcher Jeff Mathis to steal second base with two outs in the inning after he stepped off the mound, and it then led to a two-run single from Shin-Soo Choo that chase Heaney from the game.

“Credit to them, they stuck with a game plan,” Heaney said. “They did a good job of just keeping it moving in that fourth inning.”

But it wasn't the only rough play by the Angels. In the fifth, rookie right fielder Jo Adell committed a four-base error on a fly ball to right from Nick Solak. Adell took a bad route to the ball, and it hit off his glove and over the fence to give the Rangers a 6-2 lead. At the plate, Adell went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

"I had an issue with picking that ball back up through the dome with the way it's shaped,” Adell said. “It was a tough read. And it popped out.”

The Angels had their chances late, but they again couldn’t come through with runners on base. Mike Trout came up as the tying run with two outs in the seventh, but he grounded out against left-hander Joely Rodriguez to end the frame. They also had two runners on with no outs in the eighth but failed to score. They loaded the bases with two outs, then Rengifo struck out.

"There's definitely still time to right our ship,” Maddon said. “There's definitely time to get real hot, but it has to happen one game at a time. I think it's been some bad luck. I've got to keep preaching that positive message with the group. As we get a break or that big hit again, it's going to happen."