Angels falter in 9-4 loss to A’s – LA Times

By Kevin Baxter
Los Angeles Times


The schedule says the Angels are off Monday. Don’t believe it.


Because after struggling through a dismal first week in which nothing seemed to go right, Torii Hunter said he expects many of his teammates will be hard at work during Monday morning’s flight to New York, where the Angels resume play Tuesday against the Yankees.


“You just sit on a plane and kind of watch your hitting or your pitching . And just kind of analyze yourself and your swing and your mechanics, whatever it may be,” Hunter said. “This next day or so, we’ll just kind of think about what we’re doing wrong.”


In that case, one flight probably won’t be enough. Maybe the Angels could book a cruise or something longer, because they have an awful lot of wrong to think about.


Take Sunday’s 9-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics, the team’s fifth loss in six days and a game that was, in many ways, indicative of how the Angels’ season has gone so far.


The Angels managed only two singles between the first and eighth innings. The bullpen imploded again, with Scot Shields, Brian Stokes and Bobby Cassevah allowing nine of the 15 batters they faced to reach base. Five of those runners scored.


And third baseman Brandon Wood’s struggles deepened when he bounced a two-out throw to first base in the eighth inning, allowing Mark Ellis to reach safely. The A’s turned that mistake into three unearned runs, changing a one-run game into a rout.


“That call could have gone either way,” Angels starter Joe Saunders (0-2) said of the Ellis play, which was so close even TV replays were inconclusive. “That’s just the way things have been going for us.”


Saunders certainly deserved a better fate. After giving up a first-inning walk and Adam Rosales’ second-inning home run into the first row in the left-field corner, Saunders set down 13 consecutive batters, allowing the Angels to build a 3-1 lead.


The A’s figured out Saunders in the seventh inning, turning two bloop singles, a double inches inside the foul line and Rosales’ two-run single against Kevin Jepsen into a 4-3 lead.


“It’s very aggravating,” Saunders said. “The team’s just not getting the breaks right now.”


And Hunter, for one, is at a loss to explain why. What he does know, however, is that it’s too early in the season to panic and too late to shrug the losses off.


“Your start is very important,” said Hunter, who has reached based in six of the Angels’ seven games after getting two hits in three at-bats with a run batted in and a run scored Sunday. “We always want to get off to a good start. As hitters. As a team.


“But sometimes it doesn’t happen. That’s when you have to keep grinding and keep making adjustments.”


Of course there is one other possible explanation: Maybe the Angels just aren’t as good as they thought they were.


That suggestion drew a glare from Hunter.


“If any athlete thinks that,” he snapped “you need to come home. There’s no way you think that.


“We’re just going to kind of talk to each other, like one on one. And try to go from there. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. That’s all that matters.”


Updated April 11, 2010