Thursday, September 20, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Rangers 3, Angels 1
By Ramona Shelburne
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Stop me if you've heard this before: Los Angeles Angels pitcher Zack Greinke is brilliant over eight innings, holding the opposition to one run and doing exactly what the Angels hoped he'd do when they acquired him at the trade deadline. The Angels' offense is woeful, squeaking out just a pittance of run support and leaving the game in the hands of the bullpen, which summarily blows it in heartbreaking fashion in the ninth inning.
This latest edition of that script was played in Thursday night's 3-1 loss against the Texas Rangers as Greinke and Texas' Yu Darvish engaged in a fantastic pitchers' duel, only to have the game decided by the failings of the Angels' bullpen when closer Ernesto Frieri gave up a two-run homer to Adrian Beltre in the top of the ninth.
Yes, the same Beltre who wasn't inserted into the lineup until an hour before the game after suffering from an intestinal issue.
And yes, the same Frieri who blew the save in a 3-2 loss to Kansas City that Greinke stood to win last week.
The Angels fell 4 1/2 games back of the Oakland Athletics for the second wild-card berth in the American League with the loss.
Greinke throws a gem: This is exactly the kind of game the Angels went out and got Greinke for at the trade deadline and he delivered. The right-hander went pitch for pitch with Darvish, giving up one run and five hits in eight solid innings.
Iannetta continues to rake: Catcher Chris Iannetta seemed to be the only Angels hitter with any kind of read on Darvish for most of the game. Iannetta singled in his first two at-bats, making him 4-for-10 during this series. He's now hitting .329 over his past 24 games.
Trumbo has a moment:Mark Trumbo came into the game hitless in seven at-bats during the series and 0 for his past 10. But his single off Darvish in the bottom of the sixth is what started the Angels' rally.
Frieri fizzles AGAIN!?!?! Didn't we see this movie in Kansas City last week? Greinke is brilliant for eight innings, should get the win, could make an argument to stay in for the ninth inning ... and then closer Frieri blows it in the ninth. It has been that kind of year for the Angels and it might just be ending soon.
Trout tied:Mike Trout has been so good this season it's kind of stunning when he fails. Twice on Thursday, Trout struck out at pivotal moments. With runners on first and third and the hit-and-run on, Trout struck out on a high fastball, leading to a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play to end the inning. He struck out again with runners at first and third with no outs in the bottom of the sixth.
Pujols poppin' up: It's never a good sign when you see Albert Pujols shaking his head multiple times in a game after a called strike. But that's how nasty Darvish was Thursday and how badly he was confusing the Angels with his assortment of pitches. Pujols popped out, struck out and popped out in his first three at-bats.