Poor play and er­rors help sink the An­gels

Their slop­pi­ness is highly costly on a day when they can hardly af­ford it against Gray.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Bill Shaikin

The af­ter­noon was ugly for the An­gels, but it could have been worse.

The Salt Lake Bees, their triple-A team, lost, 17-0. The Bees gave up 27 hits. They threw 210 pitches. Their cen­ter fielder pitched the last in­ning. And, af­ter that end­less af­ter­noon, the weary play­ers stag­gered onto a bus for a six-hour ride from Salt Lake City to Las Ve­gas.

The ma­jor league guys got to spend a rare sum­mer evening with their fam­i­lies, sleep in their own beds and get away from the ball­park for nearly 24 hours. That was about it for An­gels high­lights Sun­day.

With lit­tle mar­gin for er­ror in the game, the An­gels piled up er­ror upon er­ror.

Three poor plays were scored as er­rors, three more poor plays were not, bad enough on any day, worse on a day when the op­pos­ing pitcher was Sonny Gray, who has the low­est earne­drun av­er­age in the ma­jors.

The re­sult: an 8-1 loss to the Oak­land Ath­let­ics. The An­gels are 32-31, with their next four games against the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs. The An­gels best not start count­ing vic­to­ries yet; the Di­a­mond­backs are 30-32, com­ing off a sweep of the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants.

The An­gels started the day by bench­ing Matt Joyce, whose .183 bat­ting av­er­age is the low­est among regular ma­jor league out­field­ers. Then they lost, for the third time in three tries this sea­son, to Gray.

Gray, a po­ten­tial starter for the Amer­i­can League in the All-Star game, gave up one run — not earned — in 72⁄3 innings. He walked none, struck out nine, and low­ered his ERA against the An­gels this sea­son to 1.19.

“I’m un­der the im­pres­sion he’s do­ing that to every­body,” An­gels catcher Chris Ian­netta said. “He’s a re­ally good pitcher. He’s one of the best in the game. I don’t think he gets enough no­to­ri­ety.”

The An­gels gave up a run in the sec­ond in­ning, when sec­ond base­man Johnny Gio­vatella booted a dou­ble­play ball, short­stop Erick Ay­bar dropped a re­lay throw, and Ian­netta failed to scoop up a squeeze bunt. When Ian­netta did get hold of the ball, as he lay prone on the ground, he slammed the ball against the ground in frus­tra­tion.

The An­gels gave up an­other run in the third in­ning, when Ay­bar tried to make an over-the-shoul­der catch of a pop f ly that landed sev­eral feet away. In the sixth in­ning, a hard grounder bounced off third base­man Kyle Ku­b­itza and Ay­bar fum­bled a bases­loaded grounder.

“We just played poor de­fen­sively,” Manager Mike Scios­cia said. “If you’re pitch­ing against a guy who has thrown the ball as well as Sonny Gray has against us this year, you need to pitch with him. That in­cludes play­ing de­fense.”

Said Ian­netta: “I wouldn’t call it men­tal break­downs. They were pretty much phys­i­cal er­rors. That hap­pens. It’s just un­for­tu­nate they hap­pened sev­eral times in the game.”

The An­gels be­gan the game hav­ing given up 13 un­earned runs, tied for fewest in the AL, and hav­ing made one er­ror this month. As a re­sult, Scios­cia said, he did not ad­dress the team about the de­fen­sive lapses.

“It’s over,” he said. “We turned the page on it. Th­ese guys have been play­ing re­ally good base­ball, es­pe­cially de­fen­sively. This one just got away from us.”

Be­fore the game, Scios­cia told Joyce he would be benched Sun­day and Mon­day. Scios­cia said the An­gels have not dis­cussed re­leas­ing Joyce.

Scios­cia said Joyce would get more chances but would not say when Joyce would play again. Scios­cia noted the An­gels had op­tions in left field, but none of the op­tions he cited is proven: Efren Navarro, pri­mar­ily a first base­man; Gi­avotella, pri­mar­ily a sec­ond base­man; Ku­b­itza, a rookie and pri­mar­ily a third base­man; and rookie Tay­lor Feather­son, a util­ity in­fielder with an .091 bat­ting av­er­age.

Joyce was ac­quired to bat in the mid­dle of the lineup against right-han­ders. On Sun­day, against a righthander, the An­gels ef­fec­tively gave Ku­b­itza, with 14 ma­jor league plate ap­pear­ances, the at-bats that would have gone to Joyce.

“If you look at our or­ga­ni­za­tional depth, a pro­duc­tive Matt Joyce is re­ally im­por­tant to us,” Scios­cia said, “es­pe­cially a left-handed bat this lineup needs for bal­ance. I think there’s more pro­duc­tion there. It’s up to Matt to see if he can find his way through this.”

Said Joyce: “It’s got­ten to the point where you get tired of talk­ing about it, you know what I mean? I just want to go play a game.”

Mark J. Ter­rill As­so­ci­ated Press

BEN ZO­BRIST of the Oak­land Ath­let­ics jumps over An­gels catcher Chris Ian­netta, who is charged with an er­ror for fail­ing to scoop up a squeeze bunt.

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