The Los Angeles Angels have been losing too many games they shouldn’t have lately. And it doesn’t get much worse than what Tampa Bay did to them Saturday night.
C.J. Wilson couldn’t protect an eight-run lead, giving back seven of them in one inning, and Kevin Jepsen allowed a tiebreaking, two-run homer to pinch-hitter Carlos Pena in the eighth as the Angels absorbed a demoralizing 10-8 loss that led to a 30-minute closed-door meeting.
The no-decision left Wilson winless in a career-worst 10 consecutive starts (0-5) with a 5.70 ERA since beating Baltimore 7-3 on June 26 at Camden Yards. The knockout blow for him was Evan Longoria’s two-out, two-run homer after an RBI single by Sam Fuld, a bases-loaded walk to Desmond Jennings and a three-run double by Ben Zobrist.
”The only reason I can be upset is because of my mistakes,” Wilson said. ”I watched that inning again, and I saw that I overthrew the ball to Zobrist. That’s really what it all boils down to. I tried to do too much and he got a hit. It’s frustrating when a guy gets a hit in that particular situation because you’re ahead in the count. It was a throw, more than a pitch. That’s really all I’d change about that inning.”
The Rays tied it in the sixth with an unearned run against Jason Isringhausen after Ryan Roberts doubled, advanced on a passed ball by Chris Iannetta and scored on Jose Lobaton’s sacrifice fly. Pena, batting for Sean Rodriguez, hit his 16th homer into the lower seats in the right-field corner on a 2-2 pitch from Jepsen (2-2) after a leadoff single by Jeff Keppinger.
”To be able to help my ballclub out like this with the simple act of hitting a home run, it feels so good,” Pena said. ”I felt like a little kid running around the bases. It was awesome.
”It shows a lot of heart. That’s a very tough team over there, and to be able to come back like that – especially against such a great starter, and getting good at-bat after good at-bat, this team showed me a lot and we showed ourselves a lot. We’re never out of a ballgame.”
Rookie sensation Mike Trout homered and drove in three runs for the Angels. Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer, his 27th.
The game started on an ominous note for the Rays when B.J. Upton lined a pitch off the fence in left-center, missed first base by at least three feet while making the turn and had to settle for a single. He then was picked off by Wilson and subsequently thrown out at second by Pujols.
It got worse for the Rays in the bottom half, as Alex Cobb fell behind 3-0 after just 13 pitches. Trout led off with his 23rd homer on the right-hander’s second pitch, hitting the rock formation in left-center on the fly. It began a string of five straight hits, including RBI singles by Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo.
The Angels increased the margin to 7-0 in the second. Trout singled home a run, then stole his franchise-record 30th consecutive base and scored on Torii Hunter’s double. Pujols followed with a towering drive far beyond the bullpen gate on Cobb’s 36th pitch. The speedy Trout drove in the Angels’ eighth run in the fourth with an infield single.
”I really felt all along that we had a chance, and I mean that sincerely,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ”Wilson wasn’t as sharp as he normally can be, and we’ve been doing a nice job of scoring runs. I thought our at-bats were good early in the game. We weren’t getting anything done, but I’ve seen Wilson a lot, so I know when he’s really on top of his game and when he’s not. And I thought he might be a little bit vulnerable.”
Jake McGee (4-2) earned the win with a perfect seventh and Fernando Rodney got three outs for his major league-leading 38th save. The Rays, held to one hit over the first four innings by Wilson, rallied from an 8-0 hole with seven runs in the fifth against the All-Star left-hander.
Rodney ended the game by striking out Erick Aybar and retiring pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis on a grounder with runners at second and third.
Cobb threw 59 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, giving up eight runs and 12 hits against an offense that came in batting .207 against Tampa Bay in eight previous meetings this season — and was 4 for 44 with runners in scoring position.
”Cobb was just off today. He was throwing the ball down the middle and they weren’t missing it,” Maddon said.
The Rays outscored Los Angeles 34-11 over their last six meetings, a stretch that began with three consecutive shutouts. They won the series opener 7-0 and routed the Angels 12-3 Friday night.
NOTES: The Angels welcomed back 27 players from the 2002 World Series championship team to mark the 10th anniversary of their seven-game triumph over the San Francisco Giants. The entire squad was inducted into the Angels’ Hall of Fame. ”To a man, the 2002 team had the tenacity to do what no other Angels team had done before,” former RF Tim Salmon told the crowd of 41,086. ”May the legacy of the 2002 team serve as an example for future teams, that the highest goals can be accomplished when you check your egos at the door and come together as one.” … Wilson was 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA in the seven starts that preceded this winless drought. … Angels LHP Scott Downs retired his only batter after getting reinstated from the 15-day DL. He missed 20 games because of a shoulder strain.