Angels begin season with striking resemblance
APR 09, 2013 11:57p ET
Their ace, Jered Weaver, is out at least a month with a fractured left elbow. Shortstop Erick Aybar came up with a bruised left heel in the third inning against the Oakland A’s and is day to day. The hitting is coming around, but the pitching still isn’t right.
It’s early. Soon enough, the Angels’ 9-5 loss to the A’s at Angel Stadium will be gone and presumably forgotten. But with just two wins and five losses already, there’s an urge to start worrying.
It’s understandable. They had the same kind of start last season and never recovered, finishing third in the American League West and falling short of the playoffs for a third consecutive season. Could it happen again?
There’s no time to wait for Weaver’s return. They need someone to step forward and pitch with the kind of confidence the right-hander usually gives them. C.J. Wilson, their No. 2 starter, wobbled badly Tuesday against the A’s but then found his groove and retired 15 of the last 17 batters he faced.
But he gave up three runs in the first inning and another in the second, and that’s the kind of deficit that can be hard to make up. He blamed it on overthrowing the ball, but whether it was that or losing his release point, it wasn’t pretty.
“That first inning just went the other way,” manager Mike Scioscia said, and it did. Wilson got two ground outs, then walked two batters before giving up three singles and another walk. Just like that, it was 3-0 before Angels fans had settled into their seats.
Offensively, the Angels wasted several opportunities. In the bottom of the first, they loaded the bases with no outs against Jarrod Parker, but Josh Hamilton struck out and Mark Trumbo hit into a double play. In the third, Aybar and Albert Pujols led off with singles. The next hitter, Hamilton, lined a ball to the gap in left center that was caught by Yoenis Cespedes, who double Pujols off first.
“When he hit it,” Scioscia said, “we all thought it was in the gap.” But it wasn’t, and another potentially big inning died.
The Angels took a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning – a pair of errors by A’s right fielder Chris Young and shortstop Jed Lowrie helped – but the bullpen gave it right back. A’s catcher Derek Norris hit a three-run homer off reliever Kevin Jepsen in the seventh, and two batters later, Brandon Moss hit a two-run shot off Jepsen. The lead suddenly was gone.
As the Angels trudged back to their dugout, they heard boos from a crowd of 44,014. Almost half the turnout had retreated to the parking lot by the start of the eighth.
“We’ve got to get back to the drawing board and get this bullpen where it needs to be,” Scioscia said.
Weaver’s loss is almost certain to be felt. Right-hander Garrett Richards, the team’s setup man, will take Weaver’s spot in the rotation, leaving a hole in the bullpen. But the Angels won’t look to make a move, believing they have the arms to keep the team steady for the next several weeks.
“We don’t have six guys capable of being Jered Weaver,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said before the game, “but we do have 12 guys capable of being good major league pitchers.”
They’ll have to be. If not, even a robust offense might not save them from a repeat of 2012.
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