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Angels lose to Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1, in 10 innings

Joel Pineiro, making his season debut for the Angels, gives up one run in seven innings, but the offense that scored eight runs on 17 hits Friday is stymied by Tampa Bay's James Shields. A two-strike wild pitch by Fernando Rodney in the 10th gives the Rays the win.

May 01, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels starting pitcher Joel Pineiro delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays in the third inning Saturday at Tropicana Field.
Angels starting pitcher Joel Pineiro delivers a pitch against the Tampa… (Kim Klement / US Presswire )

Reporting from St. Petersburg, Fla. — No team in the American League played more extra-inning games in the season's first month than the Angels.

Which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view.

"It's pretty simple," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "When you're pitching really well and not hitting, you're going to play tight games. When you play tight games, that increases the chance that you're going to go extra innings."

And the Angels have lost in extra innings more than any other team in the league after dropping a 10-inning decision Saturday to the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1.

The winning run scored when Fernando Rodney bounced a two-out, two-strike pitch in the dirt, marking the first time in franchise history the Rays have won on a walk-off wild pitch.

Yet if those four extra-inning losses — in six extra-inning games — can be seen as a black cloud, Torii Hunter says it's a cloud with a silver lining.

"It shows that we're battling," said Hunter, whose team has rallied from late deficits three times in its last nine games, only to lose each time in extra innings. "We try to stay in there."

Take Saturday. For eight innings Tampa Bay's James Shields was just short of unhittable, retiring the first 13 Angels he faced while striking out a career-high 12 and taking a 1-0 lead into the ninth.

"He was filthy," Hunter said. "He was unbelievable."

But if any players in the Angels dugout felt like packing it in and waiting for another day, they were wise to keep it to themselves.

"If you get somebody thinking like that, I think I'll beat him up," Hunter joked. "That's not in my blood. One mistake, it's a homer. Or a double."

In this case, it was a double by Hunter leading off the ninth and knocking Shields out of the game. Two batters later, Hunter slid home with the tying run, forcing extra innings for the sixth time this season after second baseman Ben Zobrist fumbled Howie Kendrick's ground ball.

That was all the offense the Angels would get, though. A day after pounding out 17 hits, they had to scratch for one run, the fourth time in the last seven games they have scored fewer than two runs.

Yet one run was almost enough given the way Angels starter Joel Pineiro pitched in his season debut, giving up just a fifth-inning homer to Matt Joyce.

The Angels' rotation has gotten brilliant performances from Jered Weaver and Dan Haren this spring but has struggled for consistency after that. A healthy Pineiro could go a long way toward addressing that.

"I've got a lot of catching up to do," said Pineiro, who has been bothered by shoulder stiffness. "This is just the beginning."

A beginning that ended badly when Rodney, who wiggled out of a jam in the ninth, caromed a slider off catcher Hank Conger, allowing Joyce to score from third.

"We were just looking for a punch-out there, and then it hit the ground," Conger said. "It was a tough ball, But at the same time it was blockable. I should have kept it in front of me."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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