A night of missed opportunities for Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. – All around the Angels clubhouse,
players slumped quietly in front of their lockers and cursed their
missed opportunities. No one was more upset than Torii
Hunter.
 
Like his teammates, Hunter knew the
Angels had their chances Tuesday night — not just one or two but
several. A timely base hit here, a well-placed fly ball there and it’s
possible things turn out differently. But every time they could have
made the most of their opportunities, they
misfired.
 
“I’m mad,” Hunter said. “I wanted
to get something going. We had chances, we just didn’t take advantage
of them.”
 
So a game that could have been a
victory winds up a 6-5 loss to the Oakland A’s, who have won the first
two games of the four-game series and dropped the Angels 2½ games out of
the American League wild card race.
 
At a
time when every game weighs heavily on their season, the Angels are
treading lightly.
 
“We can’t let this linger
too long,” Vernon Wells said. “We’ve got two more games with these guys
and we need to split the series.”
 
They can
ill afford to let another game get away. They were 2 for 10 with
runners in scoring position and stranded three runners at third base,
each time with less than two outs. But their best chance came in the
ninth inning after run-scoring singles by Hunter and Albert Pujols
turned a 6-3 deficit into a 6-5
nail-biter.
 
With runners at first and third
and no outs, this was their time. A fly ball would have been enough to
tie the game; a single would have put them in position to win. But at a
crucial moment, Kendrys Morales struck out and Howie Kendrick hit into a
game-ending double play.
 
Just like that,
the night went up in smoke.
 
“We had a rally
going,” Hunter said. “Take the first inning and the middle of the game
and the end, we had runners in scoring position and didn’t come through
with less than two outs. Those runs, if you look at the end of the game,
those are runs we should’ve scored.”
 
In
fact, the Angels had runners at first and third in the first inning with
no outs and didn’t score. They had runners at first and third with one
out in the second and didn’t score. Same thing in the
ninth.
 
“We just didn’t get it done,”
manager Mike Scioscia said. “We battled back and had opportunities to
move the baseball and score a run but we couldn’t do it. We end up
paying a price for that.”
 
This is not to
take anything away from the A’s. They got a two-run homer from Brandon
Moss in the fourth and then added two runs in the top of the ninth when
Cliff Pennington hit a two-out single off Kevin Jepsen and Coco Crisp
drove a pitch into the corner in right. Hunter ran to cut it off, but
the ball caromed past him, allowing the speedy Crisp to circle the bases
on what was ruled a triple and an
error.
 
Those turned out to be insurance
runs the A’s would need. And after A’s closer Grant Balfour was unable
to retire a batter in the bottom of the ninth, Jerry Blevins came in and
got the biggest outs of the night.
 
The A’s
now have won twice in two nights, trimming two games off the schedule
and making the Angels’ task of winning a wild card spot more difficult
with 20 games to play.
 
“You approach every
game as a must-win,” Wells said.
 
That’s
the position they’re in – they must win.