The Angels were ripe for being on the wrong end of a little baseball history in a 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins Saturday evening.
The Angels haven't scored against an opposing starting pitcher since Wednesday. The latest indignity almost got them in the record books: Minnesota Twins emergency starter Anthony Swarzak didn't allow a hit until Peter Bourjos' line-drive double with one out in the eighth.
That was the Angels' only hit.
Oakland's Brett Anderson, Minnesota's Scott Baker and Swarzak have all shut down the Angels in consecutive games. Danny Valencia won it for the Twins with a fly ball over Torii Hunter's head in the bottom of the 10th inning off Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen. That spoiled a brilliant outing from Angels ace Jered Weaver.
Ace reborn. It wasn't as if Weaver was awful in May, but he set a ridiculously high standard by going 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA in April. He showed his April form Saturday, holding Minnesota to two hits over nine innings, striking out seven. The Angels' offense, however, couldn't provide Weaver one measly run, keeping him winless for May. It's worth noting that Weaver's two career highs for pitches thrown have come in the first two months this season. He needed 128 Saturday, setting his new high.
No doubt. Bourjos did the official scorer a big favor by smashing a ball where Valencia and the other Twins fielders had no chance to catch it. You couldn't have had a more no-doubt hit to break up a no-hitter. Also give Bourjos credit for not bunting. That's one of his specialties and he has been struggling mightily.
Swarzak. The 25-year old had been pitching in the bullpen since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on May 16. He was 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA, but he was way too good for the Angels' lineup Saturday.
Bottom's down. It might be an insult to the other league to say the Angels' lineup looks like one from the National League these days. Even teams that have to let their pitcher hit have more menace in the bottom of the order. The Angels, beginning with newcomer Russell Branyan, look incapable of hurting a pitcher from Nos. 5 through 9. Then again, the other guys didn't fare any better Saturday.
Bad timing. Originally Francisco Liriano was supposed to get a crack at this Angels lineup, but a sore left shoulder caused the Twins to scratch him. Pity for Liriano, who might have had his second no-hitter of the season if he could have gone. He got the Chicago White Sox with one of the least-likely no-hitters of all time (six walks, a blown call by an umpire) earlier this year.
Relief. It's not as if Hisanori Takahashi and Jepsen are the Angels' most trusted relievers, but couldn't they have done better than to allow four hits in their combined inning? They helped double Minnesota's hit total in one-ninth the number of innings Weaver pitched.