There was only one way to describe the debacle that was the top of the seventh inning Saturday night, and Angels manager Joe Maddon did not pull any punches.
“That,” Maddon said after a frustrating 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles before a crowd of 43,883 in Angel Stadium, “was a giveaway.”
The Angels got another solid start from Noah Syndergaard, who gave up two earned runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking two; Mike Trout hit two homers and a single; and Brandon Marsh hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth for a 4-2 Angels lead.
But a bullpen with its three best relievers — Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera and closer Raisel Iglesias — rested and ready broke down, a usually stout defense crumbled during a three-run seventh inning, and the Angels lost their second straight game to a rebuilding club with a $43.7-million payroll.
“There were so many opportunities, and you can slice that however many ways you want, but we should have won the game,” Maddon said. “I think we beat ourselves tonight, and we just can’t win championships doing that kind of stuff.”
Loup, a left-hander who didn’t yield a hit in his first 6 2/3 innings of the season, relieved Syndergaard with two on and two outs in the sixth and got Ramon Urias to fly to right, preserving a 2-2 tie. Marsh followed Taylor Ward’s single in the bottom of the sixth with his two-run shot to center.
The top of the seventh began with .063-hitting catcher Anthony Bemboom dribbling a grounder to the right side for a single. Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon made a spectacular diving catch to his left of a Jorge Mateo liner for the first out, but Loup hit leadoff man Cedric Mullins with a pitch.
Anthony Santander followed with a slow chopper to third, but Rendon’s sidearm throw was high and pulled first baseman Jared Walsh off the bag for an error to load the bases.
Tepera replaced Loup and got Trey Mancini to loft a sacrifice fly to Marsh in medium left. Marsh air-mailed a throw home that was wide of the plate and far over the head of the cut-off man, allowing Mullins and Santander to advance to scoring position while Bemboom scored to make it 4-3.
Ryan Mountcastle then lined a two-run single to left-center to give the Orioles a 5-4 lead. Tepera walked Rougned Odor and Austin Hays to load the bases before getting Urias to fly to center.
All three runs in the inning were unearned.
“I think the hit batter really set them up, and then when we throw to the plate, where they were able to advance, then that’s a two-run hit as opposed to a one-run hit,” Maddon said. “I like our defensive team on the field — not a little bit, but a lot — and we just did not play up to our standards tonight.”
Marsh’s mental mistake was probably an example of a young player trying to do too much.
“I don’t know how many times we went through that in camp, throw the ball down, throw the ball down,” Maddon said.
“It’s just a little overzealous at times. Everybody thinks that they can throw people out, but he knows. It was just a little bit high. And those are the kinds of things that you lose close games with,” Maddon added.
The Angels threatened in the bottom of the seventh when Shohei Ohtani walked with one out and stole second, but Trout struck out looking on a full-count, 94-mph fastball from Dillon Tate that tailed right over the middle of the plate, and Rendon flied out to left.
They threatened again in the eighth when Ward walked and Orioles left fielder Ryan McKenna dropped Marsh’s drive to left-center for an error, putting runners on second and third with one out. But Max Stassi popped out to second, and Tyler Wade flied to center.
Syndergaard looked a little wobbly during a 25-pitch, two-run first inning in which he walked a batter, hit a batter, gave up a single and yielded three stolen bases, the Orioles taking a 2-0 lead on Mountcastle’s RBI single to left-center field and Odor’s sacrifice fly to center.
But a strikeout of Hays with an 88-mph changeup to end the inning seemed to catapult Syndergaard into the rest of his night, the 6-foot-6, 230-pounder needing only 63 pitches to blank the Orioles on two hits over the next 4 2/3 innings.
Syndergaard retired the side in order in the third and fourth innings, whiffing Urias with a 95-mph fastball to end the fourth. He struck out Mancini with a 95-mph fastball and Mountcastle with an 83-mph slider in the sixth before walking Odor, giving up a single to Hays and yielding to Loup.
Trout’s first homer, a 408-foot shot to right-center, cut Baltimore’s lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the first. He tied the score 2-2 in the fifth when he hit a 417-foot drive over the wall in left for his franchise-record 21st career multi-homer game, breaking the tie he held with Vladimir Guerrero and Tim Salmon.