Angels squander their chances in loss to Rangers

If the Angels are going to make up ground in the American League wild card race, they can’t afford many more games like Wednesday’s in Arlington, Texas.

They had an early lead. They had a chance to blow the game open with a big inning, after loading the bases with one out in the third and knocking out the opposing starting pitcher. They received four smooth innings from their own starter, Julio Teheran, which has not often been the case in 2020.

A 7-3 loss to the Texas Rangers amounted to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani walks to the dugout after striking out with the bases loaded, with Texas Rangers catcher Jose Trevino and umpire Brian Knight in the background during the third inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Julio Teheran #49 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the first inning at Globe Life Field on September 09, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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  • Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels hit a broken bat single against the Texas Rangers in the top of the first inning at Globe Life Field on September 09, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

  • Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels hit a broken bat single against the Texas Rangers in the top of the first inning at Globe Life Field on September 09, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Andrelton Simmons reaches for the bag, stealing second as Texas Rangers’ Rougned Odor is unable to catch the throw during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Andrelton Simmons slides into second, stealing the base with Mike Trout at bat during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Anthony Rendon advances to third on a single by Shohei Ohtani during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Texas Rangers starting pitcher Kyle Cody throws to a Los Angeles Angels batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols (5) wears No. 21 on his helmet as he waits on a pitch from the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. The number is in memory of Roberto Clemente. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Rougned Odor #12 of the Texas Rangers grounds out against the Los Angeles Angels in the bottom of the fourth inning at Globe Life Field on September 09, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols flies out, leaving the bases loaded to end the top of third inning of a baseball game, as Texas Rangers catcher Jose Trevino watches in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani breaks his bat on a single to right off Texas Rangers starting pitcher Kyle Cody during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Julio Teheran throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Angels right fielder Jo Adell reaches up to catch a fly ball by Texas Rangers’ Nick Solak during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Texas Rangers’ Isiah Kiner-Falefa, partially in frame at lef, and Jose Trevino, second from right, stand on the mound as starting pitcher Kyle Cody, second from left, turns the ball over to manager Chris Woodward during the third inning of the team’s baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Luis Rengifo sprints around third on his way home as he scores on a throwing error by Texas Rangers’ Anderson Tejeda in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

“There’s a lot of frustration,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said.

The Angels went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. The key moment came when pitcher Jesse Chavez, a former Angel, took over on the mound for Texas early in a 1-0 game.

Three consecutive walks by Kyle Cody had loaded the bases for Shohei Ohtani with one out in the third inning. Chavez got Ohtani to swing and miss at a slider on 2-and-2, then got Albert Pujols to fly out, ending the inning.

There was plenty of baseball left to play. But the Angels only put two runners in scoring position the rest of the way, on doubles by Pujols and Andrelton Simmons. Both runners were stranded on base.

“We hit a lot of balls hard right at people that didn’t turn into anything,” Maddon said. “Conversely, they had some well-placed hits.”

Teheran gave the Angels four very good innings in his third start since rejoining the starting rotation. His fifth inning didn’t go so well.

Eleven Rangers batted in the inning. Five scored, chasing Teheran from the game and turning a 2-1 deficit into a 6-2 lead. Three runs scored with two outs in the inning, prolonging a troubling trend. Opponents began the day hitting .316 against the Angels with two outs and runners in scoring position, the highest mark in baseball.

Teheran allowed a single to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the first inning, then didn’t allow another baserunner until Kiner-Falefa doubled to lead off the fourth. That led to the Rangers’ first run, when Nick Solak drove in Kiner-Falefa with a single.

Trailing 2-1 to begin the fateful fifth, Texas tied the game at 2 with back-to-back doubles by Anderson Tejeda and Eli White. For White, it was his first major league hit.

Teheran walked Leody Taveras and allowed a Kiner-Falefa single to load the bases. When White tagged up and scored on a sacrifice fly by Solak, Maddon decided he’d seen enough. Left-hander Hoby Milner jogged in from the bullpen with a left-handed batter, Joey Gallo, at the plate.

Milner faced four batters and didn’t record an out. He walked the bases loaded, then walked Rougned Odor and hit Ronald Guzman on the back of his hand to force in two more runs. By the time Cam Bedrosian was summoned to stop the bleeding, the Angels were down 6-2. The game was effectively over.

Teheran’s final line – 4⅔ innings, five earned runs – represented a step backward. He generated only eight swings-and-misses on 76 pitches, but got few favors from his defense.

“Overall I feel good,” Teheran said. “That’s the most important thing. I’m disappointed in the numbers. The game, that’s one of the things you go and work out: how this happened. How I threw the ball the way I threw it and ended up giving up five runs. There is nothing that I can do about it. I feel good. I wish it could be different.”

The Angels were not charged with any errors in the field, but their defense was not the stuff of highlight reels.

When Taveras blooped a catchable fly ball into shallow left field in the fifth inning, it fell between third baseman Anthony Rendon and Matt Thaiss, who was playing his first professional game as an outfielder. When Kiner-Falefa shot a catchable flare into center field later in the inning, Mike Trout was playing too deep to catch the ball.

“All I try to do in those situations is keep making pitches,” Teheran said. “I didn’t stop doing that. That’s one of the reasons I felt I could have stayed in the game. That’s something that I don’t have control of. (In the fifth inning) I felt like I was throwing it the way I was the first three, four innings.”

The Rangers got their final run on a rare double-steal of second base and home plate. When Kiner-Falefa took off for second, catcher Anthony Bemboom threw down to Luis Rengifo, the Angels’ second baseman. Rengifo’s throw home was late, and Taveras slid under Bemboom’s tag.

The Angels were even less helpful on offense.

They manufactured a run in the first inning, when Simmons singled, stole second base and scored on a single by Rendon. In the fourth, Rengifo attempted to steal second base with two outs, then scored when Tejeda overthrew first base on a routine grounder to the shortstop hole.

Thaiss provided the Angels’ final run with a solo homer in the seventh. By then, it was too late.

Pujols’ double in the sixth inning was the 668th of his career, tying him with Craig Biggio for fifth on baseball’s all-time list.