Defensive letdowns prove costly for Angels in loss
TORONTO (AP)—After two costly mistakes, the Los Angeles Angels needed a perfect play to save the game. For once, their typically sparkling defense wasn’t up to the task.
“There were some things on the defensive side that definitely swung the momentum of the game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Hunter and Mark Trumbo(notes) homered for the Angels but Los Angeles lost for the third time in four games, further denting its chances of reaching the playoffs. The Angels trail first-place Texas by five games in the AL West and are behind both Boston and Tampa Bay in the wild-card race.
“We’d better step our game up if we want it,” Hunter said.
The Angels wrap up their road schedule with three more in Toronto before going home Friday. Oakland visits for three over the weekend and the season ends with a three-game series against the first-place Rangers starting next Monday.
“All is not lost,” Hunter said. “We just need to be within three come Monday.”
The crowd of 11,178 was Toronto’s second-smallest of the season, and well short of the 18,556 who showed up just down the street to watch the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs open their preseason schedule against the Ottawa Senators.
The Blue Jays drew a season-low 11,077 fans for an April 5 game against Oakland.
After Thames was forced at second on Jose Bautista’s(notes) fielder’s choice, Scioscia brought in Hunter from right field to serve as an extra infielder. Lind hit a grounder that Hunter fielded between first and second but his throw to the plate was low and wide, allowing McCoy to slide in safely.
“They got me to roll it over, but I hit it to someone used to being 300 feet away, not 90 feet,” Lind said. “I know he’s got a lot of Gold Gloves, but they were as an outfielder. I guess I hit it to the right area.”
Hunter, who has been brought into the infield before, said he had almost no margin for error on the pivotal throw.
“Tough play, man,” a frustrated Hunter said. “My momentum was carrying me to my left. I had everything going on. The base runner was in my way, Trumbo got in my way and my momentum just wouldn’t let me set my feet.
“It had to be right there, it had to be perfect,” Hunter added.
Hunter threw out Thames at second base in the fifth, his career-best 15th outfield assist.
Hunter led off the second with a homer to center, his 21st, but Toronto answered with two runs in the fourth.
Angels right-hander Jerome Williams(notes) walked Edwin Encarnacion(notes) to begin the inning, and Kelly Johnson(notes) followed with a bouncer to the mound. Williams made a barehanded grab but threw wildly to second, allowing Encarnacion to advance on the error.
“He just rushed the throw to second,” Scioscia said. “You really just need to set your feet for the play at second and get an out on that ball.”
The Angels tied it in the fifth when Trumbo led off with his 28th homer.
Making his fifth start of the season, Williams allowed two runs—none earned—in 6 1-3 innings. He walked three and struck out three.
Hisanori Takahashi(notes) pitched one inning of relief, but was replaced by Bobby Cassevah(notes) after Thames drew a one-out walk in the eighth. Bautista grounded into a fielder’s choice, with second baseman Howie Kendrick(notes) making a fine play to get Thames at second, and Lind grounded out to end the inning.
Twenty of the 27 outs recorded by Romero came on ground balls.
“They came out swinging and it worked to my advantage because that sinker was working today and they kept pounding it into the ground,” Romero said.
NOTES: Los Angeles is 8-12 in extra innings. … Angels rookie OF Mike Trout(notes) (sore left calf) did not start. … Blue Jays SS Yunel Escobar(notes) (left elbow) missed his seventh straight game. Escobar, who played catch and ran on the field before the game, has not played since being hit by a pitch from Baltimore’s Rick VandenHurk(notes) on Sept. 10. … Thames started for Toronto one day after being cut on the right eyelid by a foul tip.