The Angels’ heartbreaking 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Astros in Houston on Friday night included frustrating umpire decisions in the first and last innings and a couple of disappointing outings from relievers.
All of it was just enough to ruin what should have been a celebration of the best-pitched game of the season so far for the Angels.
Andrew Heaney walked off the mound with no runs on the board in the seventh inning, only to see reliever Aaron Slegers immediately hang a slider to Yuli Gurriel, who hit a game-tying two-run homer.
And then the Angels retook a two-run lead in the top of the 10th, only to see closer Raisel Iglesias allow three runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Angels dropped to 9-9 after what was certainly the most frustrating of their nine losses.
They were just two outs away from winning it after they’d scored in the top of the 10th on RBI singles by David Fletcher and Albert Pujols.
The Astros’ automatic runner who began the inning at second came around on a fly ball and then an infield hit by speedy Myles Straw. Jason Castro then doubled down the right field line, sending Straw to third.
Angels players on the field seemed certain the ball had dropped foul, but after a video review the call was upheld.
Carlos Correa tied the score with a sacrifice fly. Robel Garcia then dropped a broken-bat single into center field, driving in the winning run.
Iglesias has a 7.71 ERA and two blown saves. He took one of his two losses when entering in a tie game. Although he wasn’t hit hard in this game – the only solid hit was Castro’s – it was nonetheless another disappointing performance in his first month with the Angels.
“I’m definitely off to a slow start, but my confidence is there with all my pitches,” Iglesias said through an interpreter. “I just have to keep going out there and find a solution to what’s going on.”
The loss spoiled a brilliant performance by Heaney, who was ultimately charged with one run on two hits in 6-1/3 innings, with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
Heaney has continued to pitch consistently well ever since he moved back to the first base side of the rubber after he allowed seven runs in his first start of the season. In the three outings since, Heaney has allowed three earned runs in 17-2/3 innings, with 25 strikeouts and five walks.
On Friday, Heaney gave up a single to Alex Bregman in the first inning, and then he retired nine in a row. He hit Yordan Alvarez with a pitch, and then he retired eight in a row.
“It felt really good,” Heaney said. “It felt like I was commanding all three pitches, keeping guys off base. It felt good.”
That included a string of five straight strikeouts, which ended when Alvarez doubled down the left field line on Heaney’s 101st pitch. Heaney said he was “a little” surprised when Manager Joe Maddon then came to get the ball from him.
Maddon said Heaney was “outstanding” but his pitch count was a factor, as was the fact that he’d just allowed a double to a lefty and was about to face a righty.
“Gurriel’s good,” Maddon said. “I just wanted to give him a different look right there. It’s about pitch execution. We didn’t get it where we wanted to.”
The Angels could have given their pitchers a little more margin for error, but they were mostly flummoxed by Zack Greinke. They also lost a run because of an umpire’s call in the first inning.
With runners at first and third and one out, Jared Walsh hit a tapper in front of the plate and Greinke’s throw to first hit Walsh, bouncing away as David Fletcher came home. But plate umpire Brian O’Nora ruled that Walsh was out of the running late to the right of the foul line, so he was out and Fletcher had to go back to third.
“From my vantage point he definitely was not egregiously running inside the line,” Maddon said. “It looked like he was right on the line. It was a good play by Greinke. Just try to hit the runner in the back. You almost always get the call. … There’s no way that can be construed as interference on the runner, and who knows what happens after that? There were a lot of frustrating moments tonight.”