Angels News: Defensive Miscues Lead To Ninth-Inning Meltdown
MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost difficult to describe exactly what went wrong for the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth inning of their Monday night loss to the Seattle Mariners. For eight innings, the two sides were deadlocked in a game that seemed destined to come down to extras.

Then, as it has done several times over the past two seasons, the Angels defense completely fell apart in the top of the ninth. Aaron Loup was the pitcher attempting to hold the Mariners scoreless. After retiring the first batter, he allowed a single to Sam Haggerty, and things got ugly from there.

Loup threw a pitch in the dirt to Carlos Santana, and while Haggerty had no intention of trying to take second base, Max Stassi gifted it to him when he lasered a ball past Luis Rengifo and into the outfield. Haggerty stole third on the next pitch.

Then, due to all the chaos of that moment, home plate umpire Laz Diaz lost track of the count — which he admitted after the game — allowing Santana to draw a walk on a 3-2 count. Diaz thought it was 4-1 after misremembering what his call was on the first pitch to Santana.

Stassi was particularly upset with himself for this sequence after the loss, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:

“It’s just something that I’ve never done before in my career,” Stassi said. “I’ll never do it again. I anticipated him going. I was trying to be quick and he didn’t even go.”

“It’s horrible,” Stassi said. “The loss is on me.”

Things only got uglier from there, though. Julio Rodriguez hit a liner to Rengifo, who bobbled the ball but recovered in time to deliver a nice throw to Stassi at the plate to get Haggerty out. Haggerty attempted to go back to third base, but when Stassi chased him down and threw it to third, Haggerty realized no one was covering home because Loup had slipped and fallen.

Haggerty ran home and scored with ease, while pinch-runner Dylan Moore was able to go from first to third on a ball that never left the infield. Moore then scored due to poor judgement by Andrew Velazquez and another bad play from Stassi.

Ty France hit a grounder to Velazquez for what could have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, he threw home to get Moore out. But Stassi bobbled the catch and lost the ball before he could apply a successful tag, meaning Moore gave the Mariners a 4-2 lead and all other runners were safe.

Later, Jose Rojas stumbled on a potential throw to home, making him unable to stop a run from scoring and forcing him to get a measly out at first base.

Angels interim manager Phil Nevin was at a loss for words following what could have been the worst defensive sequence in all of baseball this season.

“It was awful,” Manager Phil Nevin said. “We just made some bad decisions, throws. We didn’t execute a rundown. It wasn’t good.”

In a game that the Angels easily could have won, they were the cause of their own demise. Ultimately, the Mariners would win 6-2, scoring four runs in the final frame. While the Angels are not known for their defense as a team, this display was another level of disappointing.

Stassi, Velazquez, and Rengifo are all relatively solid defensive players, with Velazquez being one of the league’s best defensive shortstops. Miscues like the ones that took place Friday night are simply unacceptable, even if wins and losses no longer matter.

David Fletcher leaves game early

Perhaps one reason for the Angels’ mass defensive confusion was an unexpected infield shift during the game. David Fletcher — who started at second base — was removed due to a foot contusion from an errant foul ball. This shifted Rengifo from third base to second, and brought Jose Rojas in at third.

Fletcher’s status for Tuesday night is unclear.

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