The Los Angeles Angels are suddenly on the outside looking in at first place in the AL West, and are coming off a devastating defeat that put them there.
Los Angeles, which has led the West for most of this season, was finally caught and surpassed by the surging Oakland Athletics this week. After taking the series opener in Oakland 9-2 on Tuesday, the Angels suffered consecutive one-run losses, including a gut-wrenching 5-4 defeat Thursday afternoon.
After squandering an early four-run lead, Los Angeles allowed the winning run to score in the bottom of the ninth when closer Francisco Rodriguez dropped a simple return throw from his catcher. Jason Kendall alertly dashed home from third with the winning run as the A’s took sole possession of first place for the first time this year.
“A 5-year-old could have caught it,” said Rodriguez, who was charged with an error. “I should have caught the ball. It’s unfortunate that we lost the game like that, but what can you do?”
The Angels, who lead the AL wild-card race, led the division by 8 1/2 games as recently as July 19, but the A’s have won 20 of their last 23 games.
Washburn, out since July 25 with inflammation in his left shoulder, has not pitched since a 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees on July 24. The southpaw, who will turn 31 on Saturday, was originally expected to return without a DL stint, but the Angels thought the extra time off would aid in his recovery.
“It was good to take that extra week,” Washburn said
The Mariners had Thursday off after taking two of three from Minnesota. On Wednesday, Seattle blew a chance for a sweep, letting a two-run lead after seven innings slip away before eventually falling 7-3 in 14 innings.
Seattle closer Eddie Guardado blew his first save in 28 chances dating to April 9.
“It was a good run and it was fun, but you know hopefully I’ll start another one,” Guardado said of his streak. “I feel bad because my job is to come in and get three outs in the ninth. To close it down. I didn’t do it.”
The Mariners swept a four-game series in Anaheim from July 7-10 after losing four of the first five meetings between the teams.