Angels continue to go nowhere
OAKLAND – Even the empty seats looked bored.
The two lowest-scoring teams in the American League protected their standing with another listless offensive performance sending the Angels to a 2-1 defeat against the A's Monday night in front of a typically-sparse crowd at Oakland Coliseum.
The loss was the Angels' fourth in their past five games. They have scored a total of 13 runs in those five games – seven in the lone victory (Friday night in San Diego). They have been held to two runs or less 16 times in the first 43 games this season, losing 15 of the 16.
"I don't see a lot of issues with the approach. It's execution," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of an offense that has gone 5 for 48 with runners in scoring position over the past five games. "I think guys had a good idea what to do against (A's starter Tommy) Milone. I think they had a good idea what to do against the pitchers in San Diego. You have to get in the batter's box and execute, not just with runners in scoring position.
"There's a number of guys that aren't swinging the bats well. This is a hole we're not going to make up in one or two days. It has to be that pitch-to-pitch grind. That's what we're going to keep searching for."
Facing the soft-tossing lefty Milone at Oakland Coliseum wasn't the place to find it.
In Anaheim last month, Milone held the Angels to two runs on seven hits in five innings of a 4-2 A's victory. But he has been really unbeatable at home, going 4-0 with just two runs allowed in 30 innings.
"You could say that," Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo said when asked if Milone remains an unsolved riddle for Angels hitters. "He really just pitches with two pitches (a high 80s fastball and a changeup)."
Milone retired the first six Angels he faced Monday. But the Angels put the leadoff man on base against Milone in each of four consecutive innings – from the third through the sixth – but did almost nothing with the baserunners.
Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo led off the third and fourth innings, respectively, with singles then stayed at first while the next three batters popped up, struck out or grounded out without advancing them.
Howie Kendrick led off the fifth with an infield single and seemed destined for the same fate until Bobby Wilson drew a two-out walk, finally advancing a runner to second. That modest achievement would have been it for the inning but A's first baseman Daric Barton and second baseman Rickie Weeks got in each other's way on Mike Trout's popup down the right field line and it glanced off Barton's glove, dropping for an RBI double.
Albert Pujols doubled off the left-field wall to start the sixth inning, putting the leadoff man on base yet again – and in scoring position this time with the Angels needing a run to tie. But Trumbo struck out. Kendrys Morales moved Pujols to third with a ground out but Kendrick grounded out to strand the tying run at third.
Pujols' double was the last sound the Angels' offense made. The next 12 batters were retired in order by Milone and A's relievers Ryan Cook and Brian Fuentes.
"That one's on me," Trumbo said of failing to at least advance Pujols. "That pisses me off. I needed to get him over. I'll probably be thinking about that one for awhile.
"I understand the importance of that. ... Runs are hard to come by. That was an important spot."
It wouldn't have taken much to support Jerome Williams Monday night. The Angels starter was able to minimize damage with three double plays while holding the A's to two runs on five hits, five walks and a hit batter in his 6 1/3 innings.
The A's have won five of seven against the Angels this season and are unexpectedly over .500 (22-21). The Angels (18-25) have not been over .500 since winning on Opening Night.