Angels struggle to slow down Rangers

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Mike Scioscia didn’t like what he saw on the field Tuesday night. So he called a team meeting.
 
His message to his players: This isn’t the instructional league. If it is, maybe the Angels need to make some drastic changes.
 
It was hard to argue with the Angels manager’s harsh criticism of his team, particularly his pitchers’ inability to hold runners on base in an 8-3 loss to the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium.
 
The basic stuff should be simple, but the Angels are making it difficult. They allowed Texas to steal six bases and the Angels threw three wild pitches.
 
The fault wasn’t placed on catcher Chris Iannetta. More appropriately, it belonged to relief pitchers Kevin Jepsen and Nick Maronde, who allowed stolen bases that helped the Rangers break away from a 3-3 tie.
 
“This is not on Chris at all,” Scioscia began. “Chris is throwing the ball well. This is about the inability of some of our pitchers to make adjustments they need to make. And the reality of it is, if this is going to become an instructional league, we have to make some changes because guys up here should be able to do a better job.”
 
The six steals by Texas were the most given up by the Angels this season, one short of the team record by an opponent. This season, the Angels have swiped 54 bases but have allowed 94.

On Tuesday, Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin had three, shortstop Elvis Andrus had two and Craig Gentry had one. Andrus’ steal off Jepsen in the eighth put him in position score on a one-out single by Adrian Beltre.
 
“They’re aggressive,” Angels starter Garrett Richards said. “We’ve been trying to be better as a pitching staff as far as getting our times to the plate better to give our catchers a better chance at throwing guys out. Tonight that wasn’t the case. There’s definitely things we need to work on as a club.”
 
Scioscia credited Richards with making strides in keeping runners on base, but it was clear, without naming names, he wasn’t pleased with others on the staff.
 
“Some guys are in a poor rhythm,” he said. “I don’t think it’s one thing with everybody. Some guys have a poor rhythm, some guys have a high leg kick, some guys have the same rhythm where guys are getting a jump.
 
“As much as we’ve talked about it and worked on it, some guys are having trouble making adjustments. The Rangers are going to take advantage of it; a lot of teams are going to take advantage of it. They have this year.”
 
Richards struggled in the first inning, giving up two runs, but the Angels tied the game in the bottom half of the inning when Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout hit leadoff homers against Rangers starter Yu Darvish. It was Calhoun’s third home run since being called up from Triple-A on Sunday.
 
The Angels took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Erick Aybar double off Darvish and scored on a single by J.B. Shuck, but everything slowly fell apart.
 
In the ninth, down 4-3, the Angels gave up four runs, two by struggling closer Ernesto Frieri. The four runs were unearned because Calhoun, playing first base, bobbled a two-out ground ball off the bat of Martin, but Scioscia said Maronde should have gotten to the bag sooner.
 
“We’ve been patient with some guys in this area to try to let them figure it out,” Scioscia said. “At the major leagues, it’s a proving ground. It’s not the instructional league. If it is an instructional league and you’re not proficient in some things, on an individual basis you’re going to pay a price and on a team basis you’re going to pay a price.”
 
Clearly, the Angels paid it Tuesday.