By Maria Torres
Los Angeles Times
ANAHEIM, Calif. — In the afterglow of a series-opening victory over the Oakland Athletics that extended a win streak to four games, it was easy for the Los Angeles Angels to picture at least splitting a four-game set.
But after too many innings got away from players who took the Angel Stadium mound, and too few hitters assembled productive performances, the Angels were left with a 42-43 record, a three-game losing streak and a four-game deficit in the wild-card race.
“You win the first game of the series against the team you’re chasing, it’s unacceptable,” manager Brad Ausmus said after Sunday’s 12-3 defeat. “We need to play better than that, quite frankly. Any of us that put on that uniform and go into that dugout, we need to do a better job. We’re chasing Oakland, among other teams in the hunt. We just got back over .500 and we lose three in a row. We just have to be better. Simple as that.”
Tommy La Stella, elected by his peers as an All-Star reserve before the game, had three hits for the Angels. Teammate Shohei Ohtani hit two home runs, his 12th since making his season debut May 7.
But Oakland’s Matt Chapman, a first-time All-Star like La Stella, and starter Chris Bassitt ensured no Angels achievement mattered. Chapman hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning and a triple and three-run double in the seventh. Bassitt, who gave up two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, improved to 5-0 in 12 career starts with at least three runs of support.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney struck out eight on 104 pitches in six innings but surrendered five runs on six hits, including Chapman’s blast.
“Today was just kind of a slow, painful death,” Ausmus said. “It just kept spiraling in the other direction. It wasn’t a lot of fun to be there.”
The bloodletting by the A’s sapped the joy out of a team that planned a Western-themed travel day to start a weeklong sojourn to Texas, where the Angels will continue their 11-game stretch against American League West opponents with four against the second-place Rangers and three against the Astros.
“It’s not what you want to do, especially when we get back to .500 or above it and trying to go on a little run,” said Kole Calhoun, whose error in the seventh inning prolonged a seven-run rally by the A’s. “It sucks. But we’ve got a chance to go to Texas and Houston and hopefully finish on the right foot going into the (All-Star) break.”