Angels Continue Slipping, get Shutout by Astros

By Michael Hllywa

The eight game winning streak that the Angels were riding heading into the Freeway Series seems like a distant memory now. A snapshot of what this team could have been. After sweeping the Royals in a four game set, the Angels of dropped four of their last six games, making that winning streak seem more like an aberration than an indication of the level of play that we were going to see for the rest of the year.

Bud Norris and Jerome Williams locked horns in a pitcher’s duel that kept the game scoreless through six innings of play. In the sixth inning, the Angels mounted a threat when, with one out, Mike Trout doubled to left field. But a pickoff play to second caught Trout napping, and it proved to be one of the bigger plays of the game when it was followed up by walks to Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo. An infield single for Josh Hamilton would’ve brought Trout home, but instead of taking a 1-0 lead, the Angels would settle for nothing when Howie Kendrick struck out to end the inning. Chris Carter then hit a two-out, two-run home run in the seventh inning. Giving the Astros a 2-0 lead, and closing the book on the scoring for the night.

Mike Trout had a chance to redeem himself in the eighth with J.B. Shuck and Erick Aybar on second and first, but a groundout to Matt Domiguez killed that threat. He had another chance in the ninth with Aybar and Shuck on first and third. But Trout again failed to come through when he grounded into a game ending force out.

The true victim of last night’s offensive ineptitude, was Jerome Williams. Mike Scioscia has the Angels working with a six-man rotation currently, giving him an extended look at, presumably, Williams and Joe Blanton before he decides which pitcher is heading to the bullpen. Blanton has pitched decently as of late, and this loss for Williams (who made only one mistake all game) has probably sealed his fate as far as who is going to the bullpen. Blanton could crap all over the bed in his next start, but he’ll probably pitch his way to a “quality start,” ensuring that he remains in the rotation for the long-haul.

The Angels play “afternoon baseball” today, sending C.J. Wilson to the mound against Jordan Lyles. They will look to turn around what has been a disappointing six-game stretch against an Astros team that they are now 3-5 against on the season. 3-5. Against the Astros. This is the team that they are supposed to pound on. Playoff teams make mincemeat out of teams like this. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe this isn’t a playoff team, and we should all act accordingly.