The Angels came out on the wrong side Saturday night of the crapshoot that is known as extra-innings baseball in the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a three-hour battle in regulation innings that highlighted the best of the star-powered drama of Southern California’s Freeway Series, one team had to prevail in the MLB-mandated fashion.
And the Angels lost when the Dodgers cleverly cashed in their free automatic runner from second base in the 10th inning — and the Angels didn’t — in a 6-5 Dodger victory at Angels Stadium.
Angels manager Joe Maddon tried to be diplomatic about the controversial rule being used this season in attempt to shorten extra-inning games during the pandemic.
“I’ve been asked not to comment on things I don’t like,” Maddon said.
Maddon’s Angels have lost three of the four extra-inning games they’ve played in 2020. They are now 7-14 on the season and four games out of a potential spot in the 16-team 2020 postseason.
This time, the Angels lost despite reliever Keynan Middleton retiring all three batters he faced in the 10th.
The Dodgers started their half of the 10th when automatic runner Chris Taylor stole third base and came home on Max Muncy’s sacrifice fly. Taylor’s steal was a bold play that paid off.
The Angels had the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, at the plate with runner Luis Rengifo on second base. But Trout struck out looking against Dodger closer Kenley Jansen and that was the ballgame.
Earlier, during the “real baseball” part of the game, the Angels’ and Dodgers’ marquee stars put their marks on an exciting game.
Trout went first, crushing a towering two-run home run to straightaway center field off Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler.
Trout’s blast was his ninth of the season, tying him for the major-league lead in homers with Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres.
Buehler hung a 2-2 curveball and Trout produced his hardest-hit drive of the season, a shot that left the bat at 110.4 mph traveled 433 feet according the Statcast.
In 11 games since returning to the Angels from the paternity list after the birth of his son Beckham on July 30, Trout has eight homers and 15 RBI.
Trout had also given the Angels a 5-4 lead in the fifth when his RBI groundout scored David Fletcher
Fletcher had a pair of hits himself and made a stunning backhanded play in the hole at shortstop in the fourth to rob speedy Dodger leadoff man Mookie Betts of a would-be infield hit.
But Betts, who signed a $365-million contract with the Dodgers in July, played his role as Los Angeles’ marquee star to match Trout.
Betts tied the game leading off the seventh with a solo home run against Angels reliever Felix Pena.
Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney lasted into the sixth inning, throwing 101 pitches.
The Angels and Dodgers finish the Anaheim half of their six-game Freeway Series on Sunday with Julio Teheran of the Angels facing the Dodgers’ Dustin May in a duel of right-handers.