ANAHEIM, Calif. -- At some point, the Los Angeles Angels are going to start running out of these crucial must-win games. Maybe that will be a good thing for frustrated fans who have been forced to sit through one heartbreaking loss after another as the Angels fall further behind in the playoff race.
On Wednesday night, the Angels lost to a Texas Rangers team playing without Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre 6-2, as C.J. Wilson was unable to make it out of the third inning. The Angels are now 7½ games behind Texas in the American League West and 3½ games behind Baltimore for the final wild-card spot.
Callaspo’s big hit: On a night when the runs were, once again, few and far between for the Angels, Alberto Callaspo hit a two-run home run to left field that scored Howie Kendrick, who led off the fifth inning with a double. The homer was Callaspo’s 10th of the season and brought the Angels to within 3-2, which was as close as they would get in the game.
Williams in relief: Jerome Williams got the call sooner than he expected, but he did his part to keep the Angels in the game when he came in to relieve Wilson in the third inning. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up only one hit and no runs and striking out four. Unfortunately for the Angels, the rest of the bullpen was not as effective.
Pujols is back: After missing Tuesday night’s 11-3 win over the Rangers to be with his wife, Deidre, in Kansas City, where she gave birth to the couple’s fifth child, Esther Grace, on Sunday morning, Albert Pujols returned to Anaheim on Wednesday. When Angels manager Mike Scioscia was teased that the team didn’t seem to miss Pujols, he shook his head. “No, you always miss a player like Albert.” Pujols finished the game 2-for-4 but didn’t do a particularly great job when he did get on base (see below).
Wilson’s bad start: Wilson’s start against his former team couldn’t have gone much worse. He lasted only 2 2/3 innings, giving up three runs, all earned, and four hits. It looked as if Wilson might have been called even earlier, as Williams, who relieved Wilson, started warming up after the first inning. Wilson’s nightmarish third inning did him in, as he gave up all three runs and three extra-base hits in that inning before being pulled. Wilson had won three straight coming into the game after compiling an 11-game winless streak earlier this season.
Pujols’ base running: Perhaps he was still catching up on sleep after the birth of his daughter, but Pujols inexplicably tried to stretch a routine single into a double in the sixth inning when he had no business doing so. As he jogged to second base after rounding first, you figured at some point in time he’d realize what he was doing and run back, but he never did. He was thrown out by about 15 feet. Making matters worse, Torii Hunter followed Pujols with a ground-rule double. Had Pujols stayed at first instead of trying to stretch his single, he would have been at third base and Hunter would have been at second with one out. Instead, the inning ended with Kendrick striking out with the next at-bat.
Just for good measure: As Scioscia has stated many times, his bullpen is simply not built be tested early. He needs his starters to go at least six to seven innings to give his relievers a chance to be successful. Obviously, that was not the case Wednesday night, as Wilson was pulled in the third inning and the Angels rolled through three relievers who gave up a combined three runs, all earned, on six hits.