ANAHEIM — Joe Maddon was quick to file this one away with a satisfied shrug.
After the Angels’ 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers on Monday night, the Angels manager said there was actually not much to regret from this game.
“I liked a lot of that game tonight from our perspective,” Maddon said. “Give them credit. They got us. From a pitching perspective, they got us. But there’s a lot to like about what we did tonight in regards to how the game is played.”
Considering the Angels are now at the point in a sort of early spring training 2022, when how they play matters more than the final score, it makes sense that Maddon would be OK with a game like this.
His starting pitcher, Jaime Barria, finished seven innings and gave up three runs, with an infield hit and a broken-bat single leading to two of them.
The Angels played solid defense, turning a couple of double plays and with center fielder Brandon Marsh running down some drives.
The offense was the problem, but part of that can be explained by the Angels simply having the skeleton lineup they’ve used throughout the second half. In this one, they were also without Phil Gosselin, one of their most consistent hitters. Gosselin had the night off, which moved Jack Mayfield up to the No. 3 spot.
The Angels totaled five hits, but there were some good signs. They hit a few balls hard, but right at people.
“Tonight is a great example of well-place defense,” Maddon said. “We just kept hitting balls right at them all night long.”
In the second inning, with runners at first and second and no outs, Marsh smoked a ball 107 mph, but it was directly to second baseman Nick Solak, who started a double play.
After that, the Angels didn’t have another hit against Rangers starter A.J. Alexy, who pitched six innings.
Alexy was pitching just his second big league game, after working five scoreless innings in his debut last week. The 23-year-old right-hander had spent the past four years in the Rangers system after the Dodgers dealt him to Texas as part of the Yu Darvish trade in 2017.
Although Maddon cursed the Angels’ bad luck of hitting balls into the defense, he also gave credit to Alexy.
“I thought their pitcher was good,” Maddon said. “Don’t get me wrong. I’ve never seen him before, but I like his arm stroke. I like his mound presence. I like the pitch mix. Absolutely. But a little unlucky for us tonight.”
Barria was unlucky too.
Barria gave up a first-inning run after a pair of soft singles, one in which DJ Peters broke his bat, and a hit batter. In the second, he gave up a run on three solid singles.
Double plays helped him escape each of those innings with minimal damage, and he had no problem cruising through the Rangers’ order after that.
Barria retired 14 in a row, until a Yohel Pozo infield hit in the seventh inning, which led to the third run.
“I thought he was really good,” Maddon said. “He was a little unlucky actually. He had every opportunity to put all zeroes up himself. They got those couple flares. They didn’t hit him hard at all. Play the tape, and they didn’t hit him hard.”
Considering that developing good starting pitching is probably the most important thing for the Angels to do as they play out the string, Maddon couldn’t be too disappointed with a loss like this.
“There’s nothing to be upset about,” he said. “I thought we caught the ball well. We moved well. We had good at-bats. We pitched well. It’s just one of those nights it did not want to turn in our favor.”