Angels manager Joe Maddon has seen too many miracles in the last month: The 1964 Cardinals fell behind September 20 to overtake the Phillies for the National League pennant, the Mariners of 1995 overcame a September 12 backlog to to equalize the Angels. and win a one-game playoff to the American League West title to give up this season.
But the opportunity for the Angels, which remains remarkably open despite their brutal 20-30 record following Wednesday-evening’s 9-6 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Angel Stadium, is quickly closed.
The Angels had a chance to narrow their playoff deficit when Houston lost to Texas earlier Wednesday night, but ace Dylan Bundy chose the wrong time to throw his worst game of the season, leaving the Angels 4 games behind the Astros with 10 matches. play.
I didn’t know about the [Houston] score, but I’m sure the guys did, Maddon said. It’s frustrating for everyone. Of course, the odds slip quickly, but we have to keep banging on the door.
Bundy came in with a 5-2 record and a 2.48 ERA in his first nine starts, the righthanded man ranked fifth in the season in ERA, fifth with a 0.91 WHIP (walk plus hits per innings pitched) and sixth with 67 strikeouts . He had not allowed more than two earned runs in all of his starts except two.
But Bundy didn’t have his usual feel for and control of his slider, curveball, and switch, and gave up four earned runs in the second inning alone. He lasted only 2 2/3 innings, gave up six runs and six hits, struckout two and walked two.
I fell behind in the count and just missed off the record or below the zone with my off-speed pitches, Bundy said. It was mostly catching up and having to throw a non-competitive off-speed field or a fastball that wasn’t well placed, and I was beaten to death.
After retiring the side in the first, Bundy allowed the first six batters to reach base in a four-run, 37-pitch second basehit, including David Peraltas run-scoring single, Nick Ahmeds two-run single and Stephen Vogts RBI single.
Angels-catcher Max Stassi cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the second inning when he followed Justin Uptons with a two-run homer that traveled 444 feet to the left-center to make it 4-2.
Bundy got two quick outs in the third before giving up singles to Peralta and Ahmed. Lefthander Hoby Milner replaced Bundy and walked Vogt to load the bases. Daulton Varsho followed with a grounder that moved second baseman David Fletcher into shallow rightfield.
The long, off-balance throw from Fletchers to Milner that covered first was late and wide, scoring one run on a single by Varshos and another on Fletcher’s error for a 6-2 Diamondbacks lead.
He’s been very good almost every game, but maybe two, Maddon said of Bundy. You could just tell he was just a click off and just didn’t have the sharpness or control of his off-speed pitches.
After overcoming a 7-run deficit in the fourth inning in Tuesday-evening losing 9-8 to Arizona, the Angels rallied again on Wednesday-evening.
They narrowed the deficit to 6-4 when Jared Walsh hit a solo homer with two outs to left-center in the fifth, the sixth homer by first baseman in seven games, and Upton lined with a two-out solo -homer in the sixth.
Angels lefthanded Patrick Sandoval, who was recalled from the teams’ alternate training location earlier on Wednesday, replaced Milner to start the fourth and retired nine of the 10 batters, the first three with a strikeout in the next three innings.
But Sandoval ran into problems in the seventh when Christian Walker led off with a double to the left, Kole Calhoun crushed a two-run homer to center the 12th homer of the season and third in two games against his former team and Peralta went on a solo -homer. to the right for a 9-4 Arizona lead.
The Angels got two runs back in the bottom of the seventh when Andrelton Simmons led off with a single to the right, Walsh walked with one out, Mike Trout hit an RBI-double in the middle and Anthony Rendon hit an RBI-groundout to shortstop to tie the score to bring on 9 -6.
But the rally ended when Varsho, the Arizona midfielder, made a diving catch of Albert Pujols’ sinking liner into left midfield.
The Angels threatened again in the eighth when Upton led off with a single to the right, Stassi a single to the right and Upton got to third base on a wild pitch to put runners on first and third base with no outs.
But Jo Adell struckout the rookie rightfielder is hitless in 24 at-bats with 13 strikeouts in his last seven games and Simmons grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
We often get behind the proverbial eight-ball and we just keep fighting back, and that’s a great trait to have, Maddon said. But to get to the promised land you have to pitch, you just can’t get there and win unless you pitch consistently at a high level.
Maddon was happy with the struggles, efforts and energy of his teams, but when asked about the club’s morale, Bundy said it is clearly not good. It’s never good when you lose. We have to come back tomorrow, and we have to win a lot in the next 10 games.
To have any chance of sneaking into the playoffs, the Angels will likely have to win all 10 of their remaining games. But to do that, they have to win one.
We understand the math we need to have to be near perfect, but we just need to keep playing, Maddon said. Try to win tonight’s game and see what happens next. That’s all we can focus on. If you try to parse the whole picture it will seem impossible.
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