Pittsburgh Pirates Sweep Angels After Bullpen Meltdown

By Saxon Baird

Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels headed into the final game of the series looking to prevent a sweep at the hand of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite a lead going into the ninth, defensive miscues and an ineffective bullpen left the Angels in the dustbin of a weekend sweep.

Things started off with the struggling Joe Blanton giving up an home run to the hot-hitting Pedro Alvarez in the first inning. The Angels answered back with a five-run second inning from a number of infield singles and defensive miscues by the Pirates.

With a 5-1 Angels lead, the Pirates answered the following inning when Starling Marte lead off the third with a double and eventually came around the score. A double by Neil Walker and a single by Gaby Sanchez put two more on the scoreboard for the Pirates but after that Joe Blanton settled down, not allowing another man on-base until he was taken out in the 7th. Blanton received a stand ovation from the Angels faithful for striking out six and walking none over 7 1/3 inning seemingly on his way to his second win of the year.

Scott Downs finished off the 8th but Ernesto Frieri came in the ninth leaving his control and command in the bullpen. A lead-off walk to Neil Walker and a base hit from Sanchez left runners on the corner and no one out. With Mike Scioscia‘s Tums bottle emptied, superstar Andrew McCutchen came in to pinch-hit for Tony Sanchez. On a 0-1 pitch, McCutchen grounded to Callaspo but a slight hesitation in the transition by the Angels third-basemen prevented the double play and allowed Walker to score. With two outs and McCutchen on base, Russell Martin came in to pinch-hit and knocked a RBI double off the wall in left-field after a misread by J.B. Shuck. With Martin on second and the go-ahead run at-bat,  Starling Marte smacked a full-count single to left to tie the game. Mike Scioscia yanked Frieri from his second blown save of the year. Kevin Jepsen retired the following batter to end the inning.

In the Top of the 10th, a lead-off base hit, intentional walk and then base-on-balls with Jepsen on the mound put  three ducks on the pond for Travis Snider with only one out. Snider sliced a ball into left-field which J.B. Shuck misplayed, allowing the ball to roll to the wall and all three base runners to score. Mayhem ensued, the Pirates put up a 4 runs when it was all said and down.

The Angels didn’t go down easy in the 10th scoring 3 runs against Jason Grilli, one of the best closers in baseball this year. However, Mike Trout eventually went down swinging on a 1-2 outside breaking ball, leaving the tying and go-ahead run stranded.

The Angels drop to 33-43. They take on the Tigers in Detroit on Tuesday after an off-day tomorrow.