Pitching falters as Los Angeles Angels drop a pair of games in Spring

Mar 6, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) and Kole Calhoun (56) in the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals during a spring training game at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 6, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) and Kole Calhoun (56) in the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals during a spring training game at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Angels played two split-squad games Monday afternoon as they took on the Cincinnati Reds in Goodyear, Arizona and hosted the Chicago White Sox in Tempe.  The Angels sent Matt Shoemaker to the mound for the 2nd time this Spring hoping he would take a step forward in the battle for a rotation spot.  Unfortunately for Shoemaker he didn’t fair to well giving up seven runs including three home runs on 10 hits in three innings pitched as the Reds built a 7-0 lead and then held on for an 8-5 victory.

Shoemaker gave up a run in the first on a Jay Bruce RBI-single as the Reds took a 1-0 lead.  In the second inning Adam Duvall led off with a solo homer to right-center off Shoemaker to extend the lead to 2-0.  With Reds leading 3-0 in the bottom of the third Shoemaker gave up back-to-back homers to Jordan Pacheco and Joey Votto to push the Reds lead to 5-0.  For good measure Duvall tripled home Jay Bruce who had reached on a bunt single, and Scott Schebler doubled to drive in Duvall for a 7-0 lead.

The Angels rallied for three in the top of the 4th inning Daniel Nava doubled to left and Jett Bandy reached on an infield single. Then up and coming third baseman Jefry Marte followed with a three-run blast to left field for his first hit of the Spring cutting the Reds lead to 7-3.  In the 8th inning Nick Buss drove in Ji-Man Choi who had walked, to cut the Reds lead to 8-4 and David Fletcher singled home Buss to cut the lead to 8-5, but the Angels could get no closer.

Despite the loss there were some bright spots for the Angels.  First of all, the Angels bullpen was nearly flawless in five innings of relief with only Greg Mahle giving up a run in the 4th.  Yunesky Maya pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts, and he was followed by Ramon Ramirez who tossed a scoreless inning with one strikeout and Tyler DeLoach also pitched a scoreless inning.

On the hitting side Marte hit the aforementioned three-run HR, and Nava went 2 for 2 with a run scored to raise his Spring average to .600.  Nick Buss also went 3 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored raising his Spring average to .571 in his quest to make the 25-man roster as a utility outfielder.

In Tempe Los Angeles Angels started out strong but a four-run 7th did them in as the White Sox rallied for a 9-4 victory.  The Angels started strong as Kole Calhoun doubled in Mike Trout who had walked.  Then with C.J. Cron batting Albert Pujols showed off his wheels scoring from third on a wild pitch by Erik Johnson for a 2-0 lead.

Hector Santiago pitched a strong first inning, but got into trouble in the 2nd as Jerry Sands led off with a single and Dioner Navarro hit a home run to left which curled in just around the flag pole to tie the game at 2.  Santiago continued to get in trouble giving up a double to Jose Abreu and walked Todd Frazier, but he got Sands strike out to end the inning.

Santiago ended up pitching three innings giving up four hits and two runs while striking out five on 49 pitches.  In the bottom of the third Rafael Ortega continued to impress this Spring hitting a double to center and Mike Trout followed with a two-run bomb to left his first of the Spring and the Angels first of the Spring as well to give the Angels a 4-2 lead.

Jose Alvarez and Fernando Salas pitched scoreless innings in relief of Santiago.  Rob Rasmussen gave up a run in the sixth on two hits to bring the White Sox within one run at 4-3.  Enter Kyle McGowin in the 7th and the young right-hander struggled mightily first he gave up the lead on a Steve Lombardozzi two-run homer.  In the next inning and two-thirds McGowin would give up five runs on five hits and leave with the Angels trailing 8-4.

The bright spots in the game for the Angels Ortega who went 2 for 4 to raise his Spring average to .286.  Trout also reached base all three times with a homer and two walks scoring two runs and also driving in two runs.  He was batting .500 this Spring.  Kole Calhoun went 1 for 3 with an RBI and is hitting .545.

Defensively Rey Navarro continues to impress as he made a couple of outstanding defensive plays at shortstop as did Gary Brown in center field.  Both are trying to make the roster.  Brown is more of a long shot in a crowded outfield, but Navarro’s ability to play second and short makes him more of a candidate to make the roster out of Spring Training.

Although the Los Angeles Angels dropped both games Monday there were plenty of encouraging signs as theyhave now played seven games this Spring.  Garrett Richards takes to the mound Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 3:10 p.m. Pacific time.