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Angels fall to Astros, 5-0, for fifth straight loss

They tie a 52-year-old franchise record for worst start in 5-0 loss to Astros.

April 12, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Pitcher Tommy Hanson reacts as Justin Maxwell circles the bases after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of the Angels' 5-0 loss to the Houston Astros.
Pitcher Tommy Hanson reacts as Justin Maxwell circles the bases after hitting… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Just when it looked as if the Angels couldn't sink any lower, they hit rock bottom with a thud Friday in a 5-0 loss to the Houston Astros.

These are the same Astros who lost 213 games the last two seasons; the same Astros whose $22-million payroll is less than the free-spending Angels pay the right side of their infield.

These are the same Angels who started the season with World Series aspirations, then started Friday's game with five All-Stars in their lineup.

BOX SCORE: Houston 5, Angels 0

It should have been a rout — and it was, with the Astros scoring three times in the first inning while the Angels failed to get a runner past first base all night.

The loss was the Angels' fifth straight, leaving them winless on their first homestand of the season. At 2-8, they not only have the American League's worst record but they've equaled a 52-year-old mark for the worst start in franchise history.

And if all that wasn't embarrassing enough, the game ended with Josh Hamilton forgetting how many outs there were, allowing himself to be doubled off first base on Mark Trumbo's foulout.

Afterward Angel Manager Mike Scioscia didn’t have to think long to sum up his team’s problems.

"It’s pretty simple. We’re not pitching and we’re getting behind early," Scioscia said. "When you get behind early it really gives the other team a chance to match up, to use their  bullpen. Gives their starter some breathing room."

And opposing pitchers have been able to breathe easy against the Angels who, 10 games into their six-month season, have a cleanup hitter in Hamilton with more strikeouts (14) than hits and runs batted in combined (11). The entire left side of the infield as well as their top starting pitcher are out with injuries,  they’ve grounded into more double plays (10) than they’ve hit home runs (8) and after committing two errors against the Astros, they lead the majors in that department with 11.

Then there’s the pitching. No Angel starter has gotten past the sixth inning this season, which has put enormous pressure on a bullpen that remains unsettled. That streak didn’t end Friday.

“The heartbeat of your club is your starting pitching. And when your starting pitching is not getting to a certain point in the game, it makes it very, very tough,” Scioscia said.

The problems started for right-hander Tommy Hanson from the start, with the first five Astros reaching base in their three-run first inning.

Justin Maxwell added a two-out home run in the second and Rick Ankiel doubled in another run in the third, making it 5-0 Houston before the Angels had their first hit.

“When you give up three runs in the first inning, you put your team in a hole,” Hanson said. “I’ve always been told that starting pitching sets a tone. And I didn’t set the tone.”

Hanson and catcher Hank Conger also had some communication problems in the long first inning, which forced Conger to make several visits to the mound.

“I never make excuses. I’ve never going to throw anyone under the bus,” Hanson said. “Hank and I haven’t worked together very much so today was a learning experience for the two of us.

“We were a lot better toward the end.”

By then, of course, the game was no longer in doubt with the disaster finally — and fittingly — ending with Hamilton standing near third base as Trumbo’s one-out pop settled in catcher Jason Castro’s glove.

“That’s a mental mistake,” Scioscia said. “Unfortunately mental mistakes are occasionally going to creep in. And Josh knows it. He’s accountable.

“He knows he messed up and we’re going to move on.”

And so, Scioscia hopes, will the Angels.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Twitter: @kbaxter11

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