Blue Jays 4, Angels 3: Three Up, Three Down
September, 22, 2011
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Luc Leclerc/US PresswireEdwin Encarnacion's 12th-inning homer handed the Angels a crucial loss in their playoff chase.
The Los Angeles Angels' offense -- hit or miss all season -- went into miss mode at a bad time.
The result was a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in 12 innings Thursday -- Edwin Encarnacion ending things with a 12th-inning home run -- that could cost the Angels dearly in their playoff push. They lost crucial ground in the American League wild-card race. They now trail the Boston Red Sox by three games with six to go and they fell a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Angels didn't score after the sixth inning.
Tightrope walking. Ervin Santana had to throw a lot of pitches early and he lasted only six innings, meaning the Angels had a lot of ground to cover with their bullpen. Once manager Mike Scioscia ran out of arms he had trusted all season, he had no choice but to hand the ball to guys who had been in the minors most of the year. They actually did pretty well. Horacio Ramirez and Garrett Richards got three outs before Richards hung a slider and Encarnacion hit a line drive over the left-field wall.
Key relievers. Scott Downs and Jordan Walden both were asked to go more than an inning -- hey, these are desperate times -- and both guys handled it well. They combined for three scoreless innings doing something they had rarely done all year.
Ervin. If he hadn't thrown more than 30 pitches in the first inning, perhaps things would have gone differently. He had good stuff and he used it to get through six innings, allowing just two runs and six hits. It was more solid work from the big three, but with the offense sputtering, it just wasn't quite enough length.
Inoffensive. All the extra-base hits the Angels had cranked out in the previous two games were nowhere to be found. Granted, that often happens in baseball, where momentum typically stops with the next day's starting pitcher, but the lack of continuity has plagued this team all season. Nine baserunners in 12 innings rarely will win you a game, and the Angels' offense just shriveled up as the game went along.
Impatient. The one trait that has plagued this offense consistently is an unwillingness to take pitches. A bunch of unimpressive Toronto pitchers managed to average fewer than 14 pitches per inning and the Angels only walked once all night. Do the Angels not take note that virtually every effective offense in baseball relies on guys with high on-base percentages?
Ineffective. It seems as though every third-option reliever the Angels test cracks under pressure. Bobby Cassevah has pitched well for this team, but in his highest-pressure situation yet, he got a little shaky. Cassevah walked a batter and gave up a double, allowing the tying run to score in the seventh. When the obituary is written on the Angels' season, sputtering offense and unreliable relief with be the key causes of death.