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Angels' Joel Pineiro throws away chances in 7-3 loss to Kansas City

His error on a third-inning bouncer turns into a five-run Royals rally and leaves leaving the right-hander winless in four tries at his 100th career victory.

May 31, 2011|By Kevin Baxter

Reporting from Kansas City — No pitcher on the Angels staff has better control than Joel Pineiro. How ironic, then, that the easiest throw he had to make Tuesday was the one he threw away, costing the Angels a chance at a win and costing Pineiro a chance at a milestone.

Pineiro's error on a third-inning bouncer back to the mound turned what appeared to be an inning-ending double play into a five-run Kansas City rally, sparking the Royals to a 7-3 victory and leaving the right-hander winless in four tries at his 100th career victory.

"It's fundamental," Pineiro said. "You give teams extra outs, most of the time it's going to hurt you. The ball kind of stuck to my hand and I threw a sinker to second instead of just … taking my time and throwing it.

"I was too quick and I just threw it away."

But Pineiro didn't have much more luck with the balls he threw toward the plate, allowing nine hits in six innings. In his last three outings, he has given up 31 hits and 12 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings, causing his earned-run average to almost double to 3.52.

And he's not alone. On the day of Pineiro's last victory three weeks ago, the top of the Angels' rotation — Pineiro, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren — were a combined 12-4 with a 1.79 ERA. Since then, they have gone 1-5 with a 3.61 ERA.

"Even the best pitchers in this game, the best, they have a rough patch of starts," said Haren, who won just once in May. "The season is so long that you just have to make the starts that are rough, just kind of keep them manageable for the team and give the team a chance.

"It's impossible to go out there and dominate every single time."

And to be fair, even after their "slump," the numbers for the Angels starters are exceptional. Weaver and Haren are second and fifth in the American League in ERA, Weaver is tied for second in victories and as a unit the rotation has the AL's second-lowest ERA. But they are trending downward, and as a result the Angels, who had a winning record in April, were two games under .500 in May.

"Things even themselves out," Haren said. "Baseball is crazy. Sometimes it can be unfair."

Which brings us back to the snakebit Pineiro, who started the season on the disabled list, gave up just three runs in his first three starts and then hasn't won since, leaving him stuck on 99 career victories.

"It was there in the beginning," said Pineiro, who admitted thinking about the milestone when he got near it. "But now it's just a matter of me going out there and having a good game. Whatever happens, happens."

Nothing good happened Tuesday, especially in the third inning. After the Angels took a 2-0 first-inning lead, Pineiro gave up a one-out bunt single to Chris Getz. Alcides Escobar followed by tapping the ball right back to Pineiro, who spun to throw to second, only to sidearm the ball into centerfield.

Four of the next five Royals delivered run-scoring hits and the Angels were never in the game again. And for Pineiro, who was late arriving at the ballpark after getting stuck in traffic, it added up to more frustration.

"It was just not a good day," he sighed.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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