The Los Angeles Angels had a great chance to avoid a sweep against the Oakland Athletics. They led 4-0 midway through the fourth inning and just about everything was going their way. Then, with a 4-2 lead entering the bottom of the sixth, manager Joe Maddon removed starter Griffin Canning after just 69 pitches, favoring Tony Watson due to good matchups.
Watson then turned in perhaps the worst performance of his career. He allowed six consecutive base runners — five via a base hit and one via an intentional walk — and ultimately had six earned runs charged against him. The Athletics took the lead there and never gave it back, and the Angels were officially swept immediately after winning six straight games.
While the natural reaction is to blame Maddon for removing his starter after throwing just 69 pitches, he said he doesn’t regret his decision, saying that things simply don’t work out sometimes, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“These are the guys we’ve been counting on,” Maddon said. “They’ve been really good. And I felt really good about it, quite frankly. … These are our guys. They’ve been doing a great job. It happened. You just keep putting them out there when you perceive it to be the right moments, and eventually it’ll come back to us.”
“At that point of the game, having observed the previous part of the game, it’s not 100-pitch exercise,” Maddon said. “We had a fresh bullpen. And I really like Tony there a lot. And I like Shek on the bottom (of the order). We didn’t get there the way I wanted to. And then here came Mayers back. And then here came Iglesias. So those are the kinds of things you plot out before. When they go according to plan, they’re beautiful. When they don’t, it’s difficult.”
Canning — despite throwing 69 pitches — definitely looked shaky in the fourth and fifth inning. He allowed at least one run and two base runners in both innings, and the heart of the Athletics order was due up. Taking him out likely was the right call, regardless of result.
Watson had also allowed a total of one hit in his last five appearances, something that certainly factored into Maddon’s decision.
Sometimes, what seems like the best decision simply doesn’t work out at all. This was likely the worst-case scenario for Watson and the Angels, but Maddon doesn’t appear as though he’s going to overreact to Wednesday’s meltdown.
Maddon not upset after losses to Athletics
While it’s certainly disappointing that the Angels followed up winning six consecutive games by being swept, Maddon assured the team and fans that he’s not worried about it. Baseball is an extremely hot-and-cold sport, and sometimes the Angels end up on the wrong end of that, as Maddon said after the team’s second loss to the Athletics.