Angels back on track despite loss to Oakland

Angels would have trimmed their deficit in the AL West to 1 ½ games with a win on Wednesday.

Kevin Carden

ANAHEIM, Calif. — A sweep would have been so satisfying.

Had the Angels won Wednesday night, they would have wiped away the three losses they suffered two weekends ago to the Oakland A’s. They would have had an unbeaten homestand. They would have trimmed their deficit in the American League West to 1 ½ games.

Coming close will have to do.

After winning the first two games against the A’s and starting 5-0 on a six-game stand at Anaheim Stadium, the Angels lost 7-1 to Oakland, ruining a shot at a perfect homestand. But they know they’re moving in the right direction.

"We played great baseball on this homestand," pitcher Jered Weaver said. "Obviously, we needed it after a tough road trip, and it would’ve been nice to take three from these guys like they took three from us at their place. But we’re pretty satisfied taking two of three."

After holding Oakland to just three runs in the first 28 innings of the series, the Angels unraveled in the sixth inning Wednesday after a couple of infield hits and a three-run homer by Stephen Vogt, who hit his first home run since September 2013.

Check out photos from the Angels’ 7-1 loss to the A’s on Wednesday. 

But the game was perhaps more notable for a couple of spectacular catches — one by Angels center fielder Mike Trout and one by A’s center fielder Coco Crisp — and for another base running mistake by Albert Pujols.

Trout made a running, leaping catch at the wall to flag down an apparent homer by Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes in the first inning. Not to be outdone, Crisp took a home run away from Josh Hamilton in the second, catching a towering fly ball that was headed over the fence.

Hamilton’s drive seemed to be such a sure thing that the operator who handles the fireworks after every Angels homer set off the display moments after Crisp made his catch. The A’s outfielder turned toward the direction of the fireworks and wagged his finger in admonition.

Then there was Pujols, who is struggling offensively this month. For a second night in a row, he was thrown out on the bases, hurting the Angels’ chances to mount a comeback in a 4-1 game.

Tuesday night, Pujols ran through the stop sign of third-base coach Gary DiSarcina and was thrown out at the plate. Wednesday night, he hit a ball into the left-field corner in the sixth that got past Cespedes. But rather than hold at second, Pujols kept going and was thrown out by at least 10 feet.

Running on Cespedes is never advisable. He has league-leading nine outfield assists this season.

"I do believe Albert is trying to create some things," Scioscia said. "Nobody feels it worse than Albert when he’s not swinging the bat the way he can and contributing to the team.

"I do think on the bases at times he’s trying to help us in any way that he can. At times he’s created some stuff and at times he’s run into outs, but he’s playing hard, he’s playing aggressive and that’s what our team is about."

The Angels are off Thursday before opening a seven-game trip with three at Atlanta. Their disappointment at losing the final game at home is at least tempered by the fact they’re back on track after a 3-7 road trip.

"We’re playing better," Scioscia said. "We’re seeing things on the field that we need to do. As I keep saying, we all feel we’re going to continue to improve through the summer and be the team we know we can become. We took some strides this homestand in doing that."