By Maria Torres
Los Angeles Times
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Before the Oakland Athletics bludgeoned them in a 7-2 loss Friday night, the Los Angeles Angels had employed an opener 14 times.
Only on three occasions had an opponent scored off the Angels reliever tasked with retiring the first three to six batters of the game. It was a rather high success rate, one that made the Angels comfortable foregoing a traditional fifth starter.
But the flaws of relying on a new-wave trend were exposed on an evening that Oakland’s Matt Olson, who reached base all four times he came to the plate, didn’t let a single mistake go unscathed. He barreled a dangling 89-mph fastball from opener Noe Ramirez for a two-run homer in the first inning. Olson scooped primary pitcher Felix Pena’s low slider onto lumber in his next at-bat and launched the pitch 408 feet to right field for a three-run blast and 5-0 Oakland lead.
Pena was charged only those three runs in five innings, but he fumbled all night with his command. He issued four walks.
The Angels might have had a chance to flip their luck if not for a seventh-inning sequence in which Luke Bard allowed a single, balked, threw a wild pitch and surrendered a two-run homer to Mark Canha.
A’s starter Mike Fiers unbalanced the Angels offense. He scattered six hits and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings. The only bit of carnage came in the sixth, on Albert Pujols’ single that scored Shohei Ohtani and cut the Angels’ deficit to 5-1.
Some 24 hours after the Angels reveled in having Andrelton Simmons and Justin Upton in the lineup for the first time this season, neither played Friday. It showed.
The Angels (42-41) collected only eight hits, with David Fletcher going one for two, drawing two walks and scoring a run. Their four-game winning streak was broken.