Not much relief in Angels’ loss

first_imgBASEBALL: Blalock hits a grand slam off Shields in the eighth, helping rally Texas to a victory. By Ben Villa STAFF WRITER Even with all the Angels’ success this season, Manager Mike Scioscia was adamant before Sunday night’s game that the team needs to play at a higher level the rest of the way. Apparently, Scot Shields didn’t get the memo. Shields’ second-half struggles continued when he gave up a grand slam to Hank Blalock in the eighth inning that propelled the Rangers past the Angels, 8-7, in front of 40,635 at Angel Stadium. Fortunately for the Angels, the lost didn’t cost them in the standings because the Seattle Mariners lost their ninth straight game earlier in the day. The Angels’ lead in the American League West remained 61/2 games with 26 to play. “Scot obviously had trouble getting balls in a good zone tonight and he’s obviously not where he needs to be,” Scioscia said. “He was out there without a good breaking ball and he could never find it. His confidence is not real sky-high right now and we’re going to look at some things, because for us to reach our goals, we have to hold leads and this one got away.” Shields has been in a funk since the All-Star break. Before Sunday’s game, Shields’ ERA in his last 10 games was 6.48. In the previous 30 days, it was 11.00. He’s had trouble lately with his mechanics, not to mention confidence, and there was even a brief period in August when he was held out of games to clear his head. On Sunday, he was asked to hold a 5-4 lead when he entered the game in the top of the eighth inning, but he couldn’t do it. Angels starter John Lackey was solid if not spectacular, pitching 62/3 innings and allowing four runs and six hits. Lackey, trying to win his 17th, left the game with two outs and two on in the seventh inning, nursing a one-run lead. Justin Speier came out of the bullpen and retired Ramon Vazquez on a fly out to escape the jam. Scioscia opted to bring in Shields instead of letting Speier pitch the eighth, and the move backfired. Shields gave up a leadoff single to Michael Young and a one-out walk to Brad Wilkerson before hitting Frank Catalanotto to load the bases. After fouling off several pitches, Blalock finally got a fastball he liked and crushed it into the right-field stands for a grand slam. The home run gave the Rangers an 8-5 lead and Shields was gone. It was his fifth blown save of the season as well as his fifth loss. “It was just a lot of everything,” Shields said. “I couldn’t throw strikes and I couldn’t get my breaking ball over. The one time I did throw a strike, you saw what happened. I probably should have thrown a breaking ball, but I didn’t want to go to 3-2 on Blalock. “So I kept trying to throw low fastballs in order to get a 6-4-3 double play, but it didn’t work out. “I’m upset because I didn’t get the job done today and we could have distanced ourselves further from the Mariners. It’s not a mental thing. If it was, then it would be time for me to go home.” After the game, Scioscia hinted that their could be changes in the bullpen, ranging from Shields possibly losing his setup role to him throwing extra bullpen sessions. “The biggest thing is, he’s behind in too many counts,” Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. “I don’t care who you are, you’re going to get hit when you keep falling behind.” The Angels did not go quietly into the night. They mounted a ninth-inning rally against Rangers closer C.J. Wilson. Howie Kendrick began the inning by doubling, and after Gary Matthews Jr. struck out, Robb Quinlan singled him home to cut the Rangers’ lead to 8-6. Jeff Mathis followed with a double to put runners on second and third base with two outs. Wilson then hit Orlando Cabrera to load the bases for the Angels’ best hitter, Vladimir Guerrero. Wilson walked Guerrero to drive in Quinlan with the Angels’ seventh run. Garret Anderson, who’s been as hot as the weather lately, was up next. Anderson hit a three-run home run off Wilson Saturday, but he fell behind Sunday night. Wilson then threw a cut fastball with two strikes and Anderson checked his swing. Plate umpire Lance Barksdale ruled that Anderson swung and the game was over. “My understanding is, the rule is you have to attempt to swing, and at the time, I didn’t think I went around,” Anderson said. “We tried to win the game in the ninth inning. We didn’t just lie down and accept losing.” ben.villa@presstelegram.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more