The Los Angeles bullpen had no room for error the last 3 1-3 innings Sunday. The Angels also have no margin for error in the final 15 games of the season if they hope to make the playoffs.
Mark Trumbo hit a 3-run homer and Dan Haren pitched effectively into the 6th inning as the Angels beat the Royals 4-3.
After Haren departed, the Royals managed just one hit off Angels’ relievers Nick Maronde, Garrett Richards, Scott Downs, Jordan Walden and Kevin Jespen.
”Our bullpen came in and just got out after out in a game where they’ve got some men that will drive the ball on their side where one mistake can tie the game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia asserted. ”These fellows are pitching with their backs against the wall and did a great job.”
The Angels are 3rd in the American League wild-card standings, where the top 2 qualify – 2 games behind Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles.
”We’re in a situation where we have to pay attention to the standings,” Scioscia said. ”Everything is not completely in our control, but if we keep winning you keep pressure on the teams.
”Forget winning series. We are chatting about winning every pitch. That’s where we are. The only thing we control is how we play. We need to bring it for the last 15 games. It’s getting to the point of the season, where we are going to have to get some help. Cause if every team wins out and we win out, we are on the outside looking in.”
Trumbo, who had hit just .177 with 62 strikeouts in his previous 37 games to drop his average from .306 to .268, homered off Will Smith (5-8) in the 2nd inning.
Haren (11-11) improved to 3-1 in his past 4 starts, holding the Royals to 3 runs, 2 earned, and 5 hits, while walking one and striking out 5. He also moved to 4-0 in 5 career begins at KC.
”The amount of games we will be able to lose is very limited, so each loss hurts,” Haren related. ”It’s not that we’re not making an attempt to catch Texas. For us rather than scoreboard watch, our games are so significant. We just can’t lose that many games. Every game is so magnified right now.” Basketball spreads
Torii Hunter, who has 17 RBIs in his past 18 games, singled home Erick Aybar, who had doubled, in the 1st inning.
After closer Ernesto Frieri gave up two home runs in the 9th Saturday to blow a save and take the loss and throwing 30 pitches in a game Friday, Jespen was summoned in the 9th and picked up his 2nd save in 4 probabilities. Jespen has held opponents to one earned run in 11 2-3 innings in his last 12 outings.
The Angels got a major scare in the 4th inning when outfielders Mike Trout and Hunter collided while chasing Billy Butler’s double to right-center. Scioscia and the trainer came out, but both remained in the game. Butler wound up scoring on Howie Kendrick’s throwing error after Jeff Francoeur’s infield single, trimming the Angels’ lead directly to 4-3.