The Los Angeles Angels will soon enough have an extra Trout in their family.
Mike Trout, the Angels’ superstar centerfielder, left the team Thursday to attend to the birth of his first child.
Without baseball’s best player for an unknown span, the Angels offense sputtered and a worse-than-expected bullpen fell flat again Thursday night at Angels Stadium. The Angels suffered their fifth defeat in the last seven games, 8-5, to the Seattle Mariners.
After the sting of the loss, Angels manager didn’t want to talk about his missing star. “We’ll get Michael (Trout) back,” Maddon said, adding “the manager is the last to know” when Trout’s baby is born.
Maddon wanted to talk about his bullpen: An assembly of versatile arms that the Angels viewed as one of the team’s strengths going into this pandemic-shortened season.
“It’s easy to realize we have to be better out of the bullpen,” Maddon said. “And if not, it’s going to continue like this. We’ve played relatively well enough to be in a better position record-wise. … (We) have to spend a lot of time to get this proper and right. Because you can’t really get anywhere without a substantial bullpen.”
It appears that Maddon, pitching coach Mickey Callaway and bullpen coach Matt Wise are going to have to work fast.
As opposed to their initial four games, the Angels got enough quality starting pitching and enough offense to have probably won this game.
Right-hander Dylan Bundy, acquired in a trade from the Baltimore Orioles in a pre-season trade, gave up a towering three-run home run to Seattle rookie Jose Marmolejos in the first inning.
Without Trout’s punch in the lineup, the Angels could only muster three hits in 6 1/3 innings over light-tossing lefty Marco Gonzales of Seattle.
The Angels cut into that lead in the fifth inning when light-hitting catcher Max Stassi drove an opposite-field homer off the right field pole to make it 3-2 Seattle.
Thanks to Bundy’s settling back in after the first, that’s the way it stayed until the Mariners broke it open in the ninth against the Angels bullpen.
After Marmolejos’ homer, Bundy set down 16 of 18 Mariners hitters and pitched through a perfect sixth inning. In 12 2/3 innings this season, Bundy — who Maddon expected would turn a corner after leaving the homer-happy AL East — has only allowed four runs.
Said Maddon: “I’m really a fan (of Bundy). I’m enjoying being with him, talking to him, how he prepares. You watch him walk out there, he’s got the look, he’s been a winner.
“The numbers aren’t pedestrian. He gets into that low 90 (mph) range and the secondary stuff is above average and that causes the fastball to play up. He knows what he’s doing.”
Recently, however, the Angels bullpen haven’t had much of a clue. They’ve had plenty of chances.
On Thursday, the game was tight and the Angels had the heart of their batting order due up in the ninth. But closer Hansel Robles blew up in the ninth, giving up four runs to put the game out of reach.
Maddon said he was concerned with a downtick in Robles’ velocity.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong,” he said. “He needs to pitch, simple as that. He had at least four days off prior (to Thursday). Part of it might be we haven’t had leads, but he needs to pitch.
“The changeup was good, a lot of stuff was good … but the velocity, that little extra click to get the swing and miss wasn’t there.”
Robles’ woes made Shohei Ohtani’s second three-run home run of in two games a moot point in the ninth.
Stassi said he believed the Angels’ bats should be just fine until their talisman, Trout, rejoins the team. Nobody yet is thinking it’s too late.
“Obviously, everything means a lot more,” Stassi said of individual at-bats and games. “Each game is closer to three games. It’s tough. We’re going to bounce back. There’s still a lot more to play.”