How the Angels lost (8/7): Wilson’s struggles continue on the mound
How the Angels lost: It was a better start for struggling left-hander C.J. Wilson, but it still wasn’t what it needed to be. Wilson’s inability to get outs and the Angels’ ice-cold bats led to a dismal showing against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Freeway Series finale; as the Angels were shutout for the first time in 26 games in the 7-0 loss.
"This is probably the worst C.J. has struggled since he was a starting pitcher," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You’re always concerned with that but we’re confident that he’s going to get it back."
The Angels dropped their third straight and now are a full three games behind the Oakland A’s in the AL West standings with a 6.5 game lead in the Wild Card standings. It is not yet time to panic. But they still aren’t playing the way they did before the All-Star break, and the offense almost is as concerning as Wilson’s skid.
"You can’t go wire-to-wire in this game, there’s a 162 games and you’re going to go through stretches where you’re not pitching well and you’re not playing well," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "It’s just what happens. We’re not playing bad right now, we’re just not playing to our potential."
Stud of the game: For the second night in a row, a Dodgers’ pitcher carried a no-hitter through the early innings before seeing it broken up in the sixth. David Freese’s double off of Ryu Hyun-Jin (13-5) was the first of only two hits the L.A. righty would surrender in seven innings of work.
"He had a real good fastball-changeup combination going and he threw strikes," Scioscia said. "So we didn’t get too many good looks at him."
Ryu struck out only four but fended off attempts by the Angels to work up his pitch count. It was exactly what the scouting report read, but the Angels still were off balance the entire night.
"At times he was 93-94, other times he was 87 and he kept continually doing that," Iannetta said. "He pitched a great game. He mixed it up, he elevated when he needed to, he was throwing strikes at the top of the zone which can be pretty difficult at times."
Dud of the game: Prior to the game, Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto voiced the need for Wilson (8-8) to return to form.
"C.J., we have to get him back on track," DiPoto said. "It’s as simple as that."
This outing only was slightly more encouraging than his last, although that isn’t saying a whole lot. Wilson himself said he could have pitched better right-handed in Tampa. But Wilson still was inefficient, giving up four earned runs on six hits in just 5.1 innings and working his pitch count up early.
"The location is the issue. There’s no issue with stuff or anything, it’s just location," Wilson said. "I’m making guys miss, I’m striking guys out, it’s just the walks. I’m getting to the point where I’m throwing the ball at the corner and it’s not on the corner. It’s off the corner and then I try to go in and it’s a little too far in."
Ryu and Wilson nearly had identical ball-strike ratios, both throwing 100 pitches. Ryu threw 58 strikes and Wilson threw 54. Wilson did strike out five, but he walked four and Ryu went deeper into his outing and gave up only two hits.
Tonight's attendance of 44,561 is the largest in the regular season at Angel Stadium since the ballpark was renovated in 1998! #ThankYouFans
— Angels (@Angels) August 8, 2014
Worrisome, maybe, but he’s confident he’ll work out of this season-long slump.
"The quality of the stuff is there," he said. "I’m making guys miss when I execute my pitches guys are getting ahead in the count and swinging and missing, guys are taking strike three. It’s just the ball four is the bad part."
Key moments: Josh Hamilton, jeered by so many Halos fans in this series, finally looked to be turning things around when he launched a bomb with two men on the Angels only down by four in the sixth. But Yasiel Puig made it back to the centerfield track and made an amazing leaping catch.
Key stat: The Angels dropped the Freeway Series to the Dodgers for the first time since 2006. However, both teams enjoyed some of their best attendance numbers of the season with four straight sellouts and a crowd of 44,561 Thursday at the Big A, which was the biggest crowd since the stadium was remodeled in 1998.
They said it: Wilson clearly is a fan of Adam Sandler but got his movie references mixed up.
"It’s not like dudes are taking "Billy Madison" swings and hitting the ball off the rocks."
He later corrected himself saying he meant "Happy Gilmore."
What’s next: The Red Sox, who sit in the AL East cellar, come to town Friday night for a three-game set. With the 10th-worst ERA in the league and their ace departed to the A’s, the Angels might finally have a chance to hit their way out of this offensive slump.