An­gels’ streak is snapped

Los Angeles Times - - BASEBALL - OAK­LAND 5 AN­GELS 0 By Pe­dro Moura pe­dro.moura@la­times.com

In re­tain­ing their post­sea­son dreams, the An­gels have counted on wel­com­ing back a num­ber of in­jured pitch­ers down this sea­son’s stretch run. Satur­day served as a re­minder that the pres­ence of those pitch­ers guarantee lit­tle. The An­gels must also al­lot time for them to find their form.

Left-han­der Tyler Sk­aggs had not re­cap­tured his form dur­ing his triple-A re­hab as­sign­ment, but he made his much-an­tic­i­pated re­turn to a ma­jor league mound any­way.

In his first start since April 28, Sk­aggs spun some of his sig­na­ture sharp curve­balls and pumped fast­balls up to 93 mph. On bal­ance, he was in­ef­fec­tive in the An­gels’ 5-0 loss to Oak­land at An­gel Sta­dium, lack­ing in rhythm to last as long as he and the team hoped.

“Tonight was not ex­actly what we needed,” An­gels man­ager Mike Scios­cia said. “But be­fore he lost the feel for his curve­ball, he made some re­ally good pitches with good ve­loc­ity the whole night. There are a lot of pos­i­tives we can take away from this.”

Ra­jai Davis swung at Sk­aggs’ first pitch of the game and shot it into right field for a sin­gle. When Sk­aggs next threw home, Davis took off for sec­ond base and stole it eas­ily.

Last Au­gust in Cleve­land, Davis ter­ror­ized Sk­aggs with three of the In­di­ans’ record seven stolen bases against him. The pitcher was vexed to see it con­tinue Satur­day.

“I don’t know what his deal is,” Sk­aggs said. “He reads me like a book. It’s frus­trat­ing. It doesn’t mat­ter what I do. Maybe if I just throw it un­der­hand over there, I’ll be OK.”

Sk­aggs then twirled two curves, both of which Mar­cus Semien missed to strike out swing­ing. Af­ter walk­ing Jed Lowrie, Sk­aggs threw away a two-strike curve to Khris Davis. The wild pitch scored the first Ath­letic of the game. Sk­aggs in­duced a ground­out and struck out Ryon Healy on three pitches to walk off the mound.

Sk­aggs pitched a per­fect sec­ond and a sat­is­fac­tory third. In the fourth, he ben­e­fit­ted from an odd out call on an ap­par­ent in­field sin­gle, but still sur­ren­dered a ground-rule dou­ble, two sin­gles and a walk, net­ting Oak­land two more runs.

The 29-pitch in­ning meant Sk­aggs’ to­tal climbed to 83, and Scios­cia pro­vided him no more rope, call­ing on three re­liev­ers for the five re­main­ing in­nings.

“It was fun all the way un­til the fourth in­ning,” Sk­aggs said of his ab­bre­vi­ated evening.

The An­gels faced a rookie right-han­der, Paul Black­burn, who was mak­ing his sev­enth ma­jor league start. He does not throw hard nor wield a par­tic­u­larly sharp sec­ondary pitch, but he sinks his fast­ball, and that stymied the An­gels.

Over Black­burn’s six in­nings, they pounded 13 balls into the ground, 10 of which Oak­land con­verted into outs. The 23-year-old struck out only one An­gel but did not walk any­one. Against him, the An­gels only once had more than one man on base, in the third in­ning.

At its best, Sk­aggs’ curve­ball re­sem­bled the pitch in his past stretches of dom­i­nance. At its worst, it made him sus­cep­ti­ble to the wild pitches and stolen bases that have plagued him in the past.

The same was true in his three-start stint for triple-A Salt Lake, where he failed to fin­ish five in­nings once while re­cov­er­ing from an oblique strain. Scios­cia noted be­fore the game that Sk­aggs had some­times lost the de­sired re­lease point for the pitch.

“He’ll be bet­ter next time,” Scios­cia said. “At least he got out there.”

The An­gels (55-56) had a four-game win­ning streak bro­ken and fell back to 21⁄2 games be­hind Kansas City in the tepid chase for the Amer­i­can League’s sec­ond wild-card spot.

Stephen Dunn Getty Im­ages

AF­TER THROW­ING a first-in­ning wild pitch, the An­gels’ Tyler Sk­aggs is un­able to come up with a throw to nab Oak­land’s Ra­jai Davis, who slides into home. Sk­aggs gave up three runs in four in­nings.

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