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Bizarre ending caps Angels’ loss to Royals

Bizarre ending caps Angels’ loss to Royals

The Angels began the day tied for first in the American League in runs scored. Their pitchers had allowed more runs than all but one team.

Against all odds, on a cool Tuesday evening in Kansas City, a low-scoring game of small ball emerged. The Angels’ 3-2 loss to the Royals ended in the smallest way imaginable.

With the bases full in the ninth inning and Jared Walsh batting for the Angels, Royals pitcher Greg Holland wasted an 0-and-2 slider in the dirt. The ball eluded catcher Salvador Perez but bounced off Walsh’s knee and back to the catcher. The runner on third base, David Fletcher, was halfway down the third-base line when he realized his predicament.

Fletcher scampered back to third base, but he was too late. Perez threw the ball to Hunter Dozier for the third out of the inning, ending the game.

The surprising sequence ended a game in which Angels starter Dylan Bundy got little help from his offense. Mike Trout struck out four times for only the sixth time in his career, and the Angels went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine runners on base. In a close game, the Angels didn’t get the key bounce when they needed it – literally.

The Angels lost a game 15-1 on Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays, but Manager Joe Maddon said “you normally have a harder time in games like this.”

Fletcher said he was looking for Holland to throw a ball in the dirt “the whole time” Walsh was at-bat.

“Finally got it,” he said. “I was going to score pretty easy. Kind of bad luck.”

Shohei Ohtani went 3 for 5 with his fourth home run of the season. That was the only extra-base hit among the Angels’ 12. Albert Pujols, Jose Iglesias and Kurt Suzuki had two hits apiece.

Seeking his first career win at Kauffman Stadium, Bundy (0-1) lasted seven innings, scattered five hits, and allowed three runs – only two of which were earned. Suzuki, the Angels’ catcher, made a backbreaking error in a critical situation.

The Angels were trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning when Whit Merrifield hit an easy pop fly between home plate and first base. Suzuki drifted under the ball as it reached foul territory, but he simply couldn’t close his mitt on the ball. Given new life, Merrifield singled and stole second base.

The next batter, Perez, singled in Merrifield with the critical third run.

The Angels threatened to tie the score twice.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Angels loaded the bases for their newly minted number-8 and number-9 hitters: Jon Jay and Jack Mayfield, respectively.

Jay, who replaced ailing left fielder Justin Upton about an hour before the game, fouled off four straight pitches from Royals starter Danny Duffy (2-0) before hitting a ground ball to first base. Pujols was tagged out at home plate for the second out.

Mayfield, subbing for injured third baseman Anthony Rendon, battled for six pitches before ultimately swinging and missing at a high fastball, ending the inning.

The Angels loaded the bases against Holland on singles by Fletcher and Ohtani, and a full-count walk by Pujols, before Walsh’s knee interfered with the potential tying run.

“We won two out of three in Dunedin (Florida, the Blue Jays’ temporary home). We have a chance to win two out of three here,” Maddon said. “We have a chance to get a 4-and-2 road trip out of this thing. Under the circumstances, that’s actually pretty good.”

Duffy kept the Angels off balance for six innings, using the inside of the zone to his advantage. He walked only one batter and struck out six.

Bundy overcame an early bout of wildness to complete seven innings. The Angels’ Opening Day starter lowered his earned-run average to 3.32. On a night when he did not have his best stuff, Maddon said Bundy pitched “like an ace.”

“I was kind of out of whack that first inning,” Bundy said. “I can’t pinpoint any specific thing that made it that way. It’s one of those where you have to grind through it, and go as deep as you can into the game.”

With one out in the first inning, Bundy walked Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi went to third base on a double by Perez and scored on a sacrifice fly by Santana.

The Royals were still leading 1-0 in the third inning when Merrifield and Benintendi led off with back-to-back singles. Both runners advanced on a double steal, and Merrifield scored on a ground ball to first base. Santana would finish the game with a rare batting line: 0 for 3, two RBIs.

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