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The Juice: Angels match franchise worst start after dropping series opener to Astros

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

The Juice returns for season No. 6! It's almost eligible for free-agency! Stop by daily for news from the action, along with great photos, stats, video highlights and more.

It seems we've been here before with the Los Angeles Angels. Fairly recently, too, as in just last season. You know how it went. Big offseason in which they came out of nowhere to lock up the prized free agent, optimism reaches fever pitch as opening day approaches, and then they fall directly on their faces once the bell rings.

[Also: Jose Reyes carted off with ugly ankle injury]

In 2012, it was an 8-15 April that proved insurmountable as the Texas Rangers remained ahead and the Oakland A's passed them by. In 2013, it's a 2-8 start thanks to their 5-0 loss to the Astros, which, according to the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin, matches the worst 10-game start in franchise history first achieved during their expansion season in 1961.

The Angels could only muster three hits off Bud Norris in Friday night's loss. The Astros starter fanned five over seven scoreless to secure one of the better starts of his career. Newest addition to their own rotation, Tommy Hanson, allowed five runs (all earned) on eight hits over five innings. In other words, this was a one-sided affair, and the team projected to lose 110 games wasn't on the wrong side.

First round goes to Atlanta: The scorecards favored Washington early, especially after Bryce Harper's first inning two-run homer and another two-spot for the Nationals in the second. But the Braves chipped away late, plating single runs in the seventh and eighth before Ryan Zimmerman's two-out error in the ninth helped them pull even.

It was a tough chance for Zimmerman, who back-handed Justin Upton's chopper down the line cleanly. Given how the play developed, though, Zimmerman would have been better off holding the baseball. Upton had it beat out. There was no play at second or third, but Zimmerman elected to force a throw to second, which sailed into right field.

''Tough play. I think, obviously, first base is out of the question. I'm not going to beat the guy to third. I thought if I turn and make a perfect throw, I had a chance to get the guy bang-bang at second,'' Zimmerman explained.

''We definitely need to learn from our mistakes,'' he added. ''It's the same thing that kind of got us last year, and why we didn't maybe move on, because we couldn't close games out both pitching and defense-wise.''

The Nats still had a chance to close this one, but Ramiro Pena changed that in the tenth when he launched a two-run home run off Craig Stammen. Atlanta's Craig (Kimbrel) then pitched a perfect inning to wrap up the 6-4 victory.

[Also: Carlos Quentin gets eight-game ban for charging Zack Greinke]

Blown saves for everybody: Friday's first game was a doozy, as they so often are at Wrigley Field. Only this time, the Chicago Cubs found themselves on the right side of the scoreboard after their own blown save by new closer Kyuji Fujikawa was matched by San Francisco's Sergio Romo.

As the Giants often do, they bided their time offensively and then struck quickly, posting three runs in the top of the ninth to lead 3-2. A two-out, two-run double by Brandon Belt was the big blow there. Then, in the bottom half, unlikely power source Dioner Navarro tied it with a pinch-hit solo homer, and then three batters later Starlin Castro won it as his walk-off double bounced high off the bricks in center field.

It's the exact opposite of the expected outcome given the recent history of the two teams, but the Cubs will certainly take the 4-3 victory.

MORE SCORES

Indians 1, White Sox 0: Justin Masterson improved to 3-0 and extended his scoreless streak to 19 innings with a complete game masterpiece. His offense made him sweat though, waiting until the ninth to score their lone tally on Nick Swisher's walkoff single.

Yankees 5, Orioles 2: How do you like your triple plays? 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 perhaps?

Pirates 6, Reds 5: Andrew McCutchen's seventh inning home run saves the day as Pittsburgh had blown a 5-1 lead.

Rays vs. Red Sox postponed (rain): A day-night doubleheader is scheduled for June 18.

Phillies 3, Marlins 1 in 10: At 1-9, the Marlins are off to the worst in baseball since Houston and Baltimore were 1-9 in 2010.

Mets 16, Twins 5: John Buck hits his league leading sixth home run (a grand slam) and raises his RBI total to 19. More on Buck's big night to come.

Blue Jays 8, Royals 4: Jose Reyes could be lost up to three months with potentially serious ankle injury.

[Also: Report: A-Rod purchased damning Biogenesis documents]

Cardinals 2, Brewers 0: Kyle Lohse was plenty good enough to win his return to St. Louis. Shelby Miller was just better, allowing only a lead-off single to Norichika Aoki in the first and one HBP over seven scoreless innings.

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 0: Patrick Corbin outdueled Clayton Kershaw. Seriously.

Mariners 3, Rangers 1: Hisashi Iwakuma gets the best of countryman Yu Darvish, snaps Seattle's three-game skid.

Rockies 7, Padres 5: Dexter Fowler homers twice in Colorado's victory. He's already halfway to his career high with six through ten games.

"The first one I hit, I was like, 'That's way back,' and it barely went out. The second one, I was like, 'I got that one.' But at this park, you never know. But I hit it well."
— Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler on his big night at Petco Park.

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(USA Today)

Have a pie, Mr. Donaldson: The Oakland A's can't lose, even when they're trailing the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers 3-0. The red hot A's rallied from that deficit, in part due to help from the Tigers, and finally won it in 12 thanks to Josh Donaldson's walkoff home run. They've now won nine in a row, though this one came at a price as Coco Crisp (strained groin) and Yoenis Cespedes (apparent hand injury) were forced out of the day. The former if officially listed as day-to-day.

• No pitcher had ever allowed nine or more runs while lasting one or fewer innings against the New York Mets until Vance Worley did it on Friday night. The good news, I guess, is that only seven were earned.

• John Buck's 19 RBIs are three more than the number of total runs the Miami Marlins have scored through ten games

• In 2012, Mets catchers combined for five home runs. John Buck already has six.

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