ANAHEIM, California: The Angels have played more than one dozen hours of baseball this season. For less than half an hour in that time, they have held a lead. For more than 10 hours, they have trailed.
Their latest starting pitcher, Matt Shoemaker, staked the opposing Texas Rangers to another early lead, and the Angels spent their Friday night trying to catch up. It was in vain. They lost, 7-3, at Angel Stadium. In four trying games to start the 2016 season, the Angels have been outscored, 25-8.
Shoemaker walked Delino DeShields to lead off the game and allowed him to steal second. Shin-Soo Choo bunted himself on base, and Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre looped singles to score two runs before an out was recorded.
Not 10 minutes into the game, out of the dugout came Charles Nagy, the Angels’ pitching coach, for a mound visit. Another run scored when Mitch Moreland doubled down the right-field line.
Finally, on Shoemaker’s 22nd pitch, he got his first out. Ian Desmond popped up a fastball into short center field. It took the 29-year-old right-hander only three more pitches to record two more outs on soft balls hit to Andrelton Simmons at shortstop.
Shoemaker worked his way out of trouble following a double and a walk in the second inning. But, in the third, he served up a two-run home run to Rougned Odor. A season ago, home runs were the primary source of Shoemaker’s struggles, as he allowed 10 more than he had in 2014 in the same number of innings. They remained so during spring training and again Friday night.
“It just seemed like Shoe never got some things as consistent last year as two years ago,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said before the game.
Left unsaid was that the Angels are seeking consistency from him this year, more so than the dominance he somehow flashed in his 2014 rookie season.
He did not provide it on this night. In all, Shoemaker faced 19 Ranger batters and retired nine. He was removed after a leadoff single in the fourth and charged with six runs on seven hits and a walk in his three innings.
The Angels faced former Oakland right-hander A.J. Griffin, now 28 and pitching his first major league game in three seasons after elbow and shoulder injuries. Griffin’s last two starts, in September 2013, were both against the Angels, then featuring only Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun from Friday’s lineup.
Calhoun notched the Angels’ first hit, a bloop single to center, in Friday’s second inning. Simmons followed with a line drive off the glove of Moreland at first base and into right field. Calhoun came around to score on a Carlos Perez groundout.
Calhoun drove in the Angels’ second run in the third inning after Daniel Nava and Trout strung together consecutive singles. While Nava was on second base, his left hand got caught and cut under the cleat of Odor. He stayed in the game until he scored, and then was removed because of the laceration. The Angels said he will be considered day-to-day.
Ji-Man Choi, who made the first start of his major league career, shifted from first base to left field, and C.J. Cron entered at first base.
Also making his first start as an Angel, second baseman Ciff Pennington drilled a triple to the center-field wall in the fourth inning, scoring Perez, who had walked. It was the Angels’ final run, although they pieced together a two-out rally in the eighth inning, loading the bases for Perez on two walks and a Simmons single. Perez flied out.
To bridge the gap into the late innings after Shoemaker’s short start, Scioscia asked right-hander Cory Rasmus to go to lengths he rarely has. Rasmus threw 55 pitches, the second-most of his career, while finishing 22/3 innings. Only after he walked two batters consecutively in the seventh did Scioscia call on Mike Morin, who promptly permitted a single to score a run.
Morin eventually finished the seventh and then the eighth, and Fernando Salas handled the ninth without issue.