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OC Register: A good start goes bad quickly for Felix Pena in Angels’ loss


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    Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani swings and misses a pitch from Oakland Athletics’ Brett Anderson in the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    Oakland Athletics pitcher Brett Anderson works against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    Los Angeles Angels pitcher Felix Pena works against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    Los Angeles Angels pitcher Felix Pena works against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    Oakland Athletics’ Stephen Piscotty follows through on a two-run double off Los Angeles Angels’ Felix Pena during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 19: Jabari Blash #54 of the Los Angeles Angels can not catch a ball hit by Stephen Piscotty #25 of the Oakland Athletics in the fourth inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 19, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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    Oakland Athletics’ Jed Lowrie drops his bat after hitting a two-run double off Los Angeles Angels’ Felix Pena during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 19: Felix Pena #64 of the Los Angeles Angels looks at the ball after giving up two runs on a double in the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 19, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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    Oakland Athletics’ Ramon Laureano swings for an RBI single off Los Angeles Angels’ Felix Pena in the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    Angels pitching coach Charles Nagy, center, speaks with pitcher Felix Pena (64) during the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game against the A’s in Oakland. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    Oakland Athletics’ Matt Chapman prepares to slide as Los Angeles Angels catcher Joe Hudson waits for the ball during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 19: Matt Chapman #26 of the Oakland Athletics slides safely past Joe Hudson #44 of the Los Angeles Angels to score on a hit by Jed Lowrie #8 in the fourth inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 19, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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    Oakland Athletics’ Matt Chapman (26) and Nick Martini (38) are congratulated after scoring against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 19: Jed Lowrie #8 of the Oakland Athletics hits a double the scores two runs in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 19, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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    OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 19: Jefry Marte #19 of the Los Angeles Angels an not make a play on a ball hit by Khris Davis #2 of the Oakland Athletics in the fourth inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 19, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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    Oakland’s Stephen Piscotty watches the flight of his three-run home run during the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Angels in Oakland. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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    Angels relief pitcher Parker Bridwell, right, waits for Oakland’s Stephen Piscotty, left, to circle the bases on a three-run home run during the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game in Oakland. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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    Angels starting pitcher Felix Pena throws to the plate during the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the A’s in Oakland. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND — Felix Peña’s performance on Wednesday night was Exhibit A about how difficult it is to pitch in the big leagues.

For three innings, Peña was as good as could be, but in the fourth inning he gave up six runs, which was more than enough to send the Angels on their way to a 10-0 loss to the Oakland A’s.

Peña’s rough game was pretty unusual, in that his night shifted so dramatically, so quickly.

He retired the first nine Oakland hitters on 25 pitches, with barely even a ball hit hard. At that point, he looked like the guy who had a 2.76 ERA in his previous eight starts.

Starting in the fourth inning, as the A’s got their second look at him, nothing went right. It was a combination of him making bad pitches and the A’s having a solid approach to the not-so-bad ones.

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He fell behind Nick Martini, 2-and-0, and then gave up a single. Peña’s first pitch to Matt Chapman was over the inner half of the plate, and Chapman shot it up the middle for a single.

Next, Peña actually threw a good changeup, down and away to left-handed hitting Jed Lowrie, who was still able to get good enough wood on it to drive it the opposite way, off the wall, for a two-run double.

Khris Davis then reached on an infield hit and Matt Olson walked, loading the bases.

Like he did to Lowrie, Peña went away to the right-handed hitting Stephen Piscotty. and he cranked it off the right-field fence, for a two-run double.

Peña then left a fastball over the middle to Ramón Laureano, who whacked it up the middle for an RBI single. After a sacrifice fly, the A’s had taken a 6-0 lead.

The game spoiled a good streak for Peña, who is trying to establish a role for himself for 2019.

After being a reliever for the past few years, the Angels moved him into the rotation and he’s flourished. He’s switched from a four-seam fastball to a two-seamer, used his changeup more and at times flashed a dominant slider. Coming into the game, hitters had swung and missed at his slider 49.7 percent of the time, making it the 11th toughest slider to hit in the majors.

One night’s poor results notwithstanding, he’s still opened eyes with his 16 starts. He still has a 4.01 ERA in those games. He gave up 13 runs in two of his 83 innings as a starter.

“He’s really condensed his delivery to where he’s able to command the ball,” Manager Mike Scioscia said before the game. “He’s got nice run on his fastball. Combine that with his slider, the whole combination plays very well.”

After Peña came out, another pitcher trying to get himself onto the 2019 depth chart had a rough inning.

Parker Bridwell gave up a three-run homer to Piscotty. Bridwell has now allowed 22 earned runs in 8-2/3 innings in his career against the A’s, while posting a 3.07 ERA in 120-1/3 innings against everyone else.

More to come on this story.

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