A night of missed opportunities for Angels

Angels had two runners on and nobody out in ninth but failed to produce.

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.