An­gels blow it in grand fash­ion

They blow a six-run lead in the ninth, with Pearce’s bases-loaded shot cap­ping the rally.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Pe­dro Moura pe­dro.moura@la­ Twit­ter: @pe­dro­moura


Their six-run lead in the ninth in­ning evap­o­rates on a walk-off slam by Pearce against Nor­ris.

TORONTO — The 2017 An­gels are not a great ball­club, but un­til Sun­day af­ter­noon in Toronto, they had pre­served leads like one. They were the only team in the sport to win every game they once led by three runs this sea­son.

They soiled that feat in mor­ti­fy­ing fash­ion at Rogers Cen­tre, frit­ter­ing away a sixrun, ninth-in­ning lead in 20 min­utes. The first five Blue Jays to bat reached base against Brooks Pounders and closer Bud Nor­ris, af­ter man­ager Mike Scios­cia quickly aborted his plan to rest Nor­ris. That halved the lead. Soon Toronto’s po­ten­tial win­ning run ap­proached the plate with the bases loaded and one out.

Nor­ris missed badly with his first two pitches, sup­ply­ing ex-team­mate Steve Pearce the ad­van­tage. Pearce read­ied for a fast­ball, which Nor­ris tried to place low and along the out­side of the strike zone. He missed again, up, and Pearce drilled it into the seats. The Blue Jays won 11-10, the rem­nants of a sold-out crowd went wild and Nor­ris’ hands went to his head.

“I can’t sum it up yet,” he said. “It’s hum­bling, some­thing to re­ally learn from.”

Strain­ing be­liev­abil­ity, both men had also been in­volved in walk-off slams within a week. Pearce clocked one Thurs­day, while Nor­ris, the An­gels’ most prom­i­nent trade chip, sur­ren­dered one Tues­day in Cleve­land.

“A lot’s been go­ing on in my head and ev­ery­thing else,” Nor­ris said. “But, in the heat of the mo­ment, I have to stay fo­cused on what I can con­trol.”

Un­til the ninth, the An­gels’ af­ter­noon hummed along. They were near­ing their first se­ries sweep since mid-May and a pleas­ant cross-con­ti­nent flight ahead of Mon­day’s day off. They pounded lack­lus­ter Blue Jays pitch­ing, played their stan­dard brand of solid de­fense, and with­stood an­other medi­ocre start­ing pitch­ing per­for­mance, this time from Jesse Chavez.

With one out in the first in­ning against Blue Jays jour­ney­man Ce­sar Valdez, Mike Trout punched a first­pitch sin­gle into left, and Al­bert Pu­jols launched a tworun shot past the wall in left­cen­ter field.

Chavez then yielded a home run to Eze­quiel Car­rera on his sec­ond pitch. He again fal­tered in the third, af­ter the An­gels had moved far in front, and per­mit­ted four runs in his five tax­ing in­nings.

“Good and bad, as usual,” Chavez said. “This sucks.”

Kaleb Cowart led off the An­gels’ half of the third with a liner to right he stretched into a triple. Yunel Es­co­bar whacked Valdez’s next pitch off of the left-field wall for a dou­ble. Trout walked, and Pu­jols pulled an out­side pitch into left field to drive in Es­co­bar. Kole Cal­houn tapped a dou­ble-play ball to sec­ond, but short­stop Ryan Goins came off the base while re­ceiv­ing the throw and all An­gels were safe.

When An­drel­ton Sim­mons dou­bled, the An­gels had their fourth run of the in­ning, still with­out record­ing an out. As Toronto changed pitch­ers, Cal­houn ex­ited be­cause of a right ham­string in­jury. He felt the mus­cle twinge while he ran out the grounder; he will un­dergo an MRI ex­am­i­na­tion Mon­day in Ana­heim.

“I’m def­i­nitely con­cerned, but to­mor­row’s gonna tell us a lot more,” Cal­houn said. “We don’t re­ally know any­thing other than it’s sore.”

The rally fiz­zled, though the An­gels tacked on later runs.

In the sixth in­ning, Pu­jols made the score 9-4 with a solo shot, and that made Sun­day his first multi-homer day of the sea­son. He had fin­ished Sat­ur­day on an 0-for-24 hit­less streak, the sec­ond-long­est of his ca­reer, yet Scios­cia had in­sisted Pu­jols was not in need of a rest. For the day, Scios­cia proved cor­rect.

The An­gels suf­fered their most mon­u­men­tal col­lapse of the sea­son, one they be­gan by pulling off all kinds of im­prob­a­ble come­back vic­to­ries. As they fell six games out of play­off po­si­tion, they learned the frus­tra­tion in­curred on the op­po­site end.

And their man­ager ar­gued that it was not a col­lapse.

“I don’t think we let any­thing slip away to­day,” Scios­cia said. “I think those guys took it.”

Tom Szczer­bowski Getty Im­ages

STEVE PEARCE, right, ar­rives at the plate af­ter hit­ting a walk-off slam for Toronto against the An­gels. Pearce hit a walk-off slam Thurs­day against Oak­land.

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