HOUSTON: Baseball being a game of inches, the Angels are inching their way right into oblivion.
Huston Street lamented a couple pitches that barely missed, a call he didn’t get, a ball that hit a base instead of a glove.
It all added up to a blown save and a 3-2 Angels loss to the Houston Astros on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) night.
It was only one loss, but there have been far too many of those already in this forgettable season, with the Angels now 141/2 games behind the first-place Texas Rangers and nine games under .500.
Buzzards are circling over the club, ready to pick it apart before the Aug. 1 trading deadline. Street, who is at the top of the list of players who could be traded if the Angels don’t win soon, said neither he nor any other player should be thinking about that.
“We all talk about what could happen,” Street said. “It’s a simple formula. If you win, they’re going to keep the team together. If you don’t win, then you have no control.”
Just two years ago, Street was traded from a losing team to a winning team, when the Angels got him from the San Diego Padres.
The same thing might happen again if the Angels don’t turn things around quickly.
On the other hand, contenders might be less interested in Street if he doesn’t start pitching better.
Or, as he sees it, start getting better results.
“I felt great out there tonight,” he said. “I felt totally fine. Probably the best I’ve felt all season, to be honest. … I know when the ball comes out of my hand the right way and the wrong way. When it comes out of my hand the right way, I usually get outs. Tonight I didn’t.”
The Angels had gotten the ball into Street’s hand with a 2-1 lead in the ninth, a lead built on Hector Santiago’s solid performance and some nice defense. Offensively, C.J. Cron’s titanic homer – a 467-foot blast that was the Angels’ longest of the season – was the highlight.
But the Angels wasted chances to get more, leaving no margin for error for Street.
He walked the first two batters of the inning, George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez. Street felt the 3-and-2 pitch to Springer was a strike, even after looking at the video.
Next, Jose Altuve hit a ball down the third-base line. It hit the bag before Yunel Escobar could glove it, rolling away for an infield single.
Bases loaded. No outs. Cleanup hitter Carlos Correa at the plate.
Street again got himself into a full count, and he had no choice but to aim for a big piece of the strike zone. He got the ball down, but Correa lined it into right-center for the winning hit.
“It’s just one of those outings,” Street said. “It could have gone a number of ways. It’s frustrating. At the end of the day, I didn’t get it done. Move on and get the next one.”
It was Street’s second blown save in six outings since coming off the disabled list. He has allowed five earned runs in five innings in those games, with six walks.
“Tonight his command was uncharacteristically off,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He hasn’t had many opportunities but he certainly struggled tonight. That’s not really his recipe for success. He’s good at getting in the zone and in good spots.”
Street’s blown save robbed Santiago of a victory on a night he had his second straight strong outing after a terrible four-start stretch. Santiago has allowed just two runs in 121/3 innings in his past two games, an encouraging sign for a team whose rotation has been the primary reason they have plummeted in the standings.
They will need to get continued outings like that from all their starters if they are to have any hope of contending.
And Street has hope.
“There are 91 games left,” he said. “There is plenty of time to win. … You have to believe there’s enough time, otherwise it’s a total waste of time. The instant someone quits believing and says we’re too far back, the Rangers are playing great, I don’t want that guy on my team. I don’t want that guy near my team.”