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OC Register: Angels can’t solve Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie in loss


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    Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani sits in the dugout in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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    Myles Straw #7 Jose Ramirez #11 and Franmil Reyes #32 of the Cleveland Indians celebrate after Ramirez hit a three run homer during the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Progressive Field on August 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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    Jose Iglesias #4 of the Los Angeles Angels celebrates in the dugout after scoring during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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    Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts while in the dugout during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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    Amed Rosario #1 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates as he rounds the bases after hitting a solo homer during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Progressive Field on August 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Reid Detmers delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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    Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani takes off his helmet as he walks back to the dugout after grounding out during the ninth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Cleveland. The Indians won 5-1. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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The Angels will play a game in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on Sunday in the nationally-televised “Little League Classic.” They’re on the verge of losing three consecutive games to the Cleveland Indians following Saturday’s 5-1 defeat at Progressive Field.

The Angels have at least one thing going for them: Sunday’s game isn’t in Cleveland, where they have lost 17 of their last 18 games dating to 2018.

Few things went right Saturday. Rookie left-hander Reid Detmers lasted just 3 ⅔ innings. With a runner on first base in the second inning, he appeared to induce a double-play groundout by Amed Rosario. Instead, the ball ricocheted off the mound and into center field for a single. The next batter, Jose Ramirez, hit a three-run homer. Cleveland never relinquished the lead.

The Angels’ biggest obstacle was a 6-foot-5 tumbleweed of arms and legs named Triston McKenzie.

The 24-year-old rookie dominated his first career start against the Angels. McKenzie allowed only two hits and took a shutout into the eighth inning. Jack Mayfield doubled in the third inning, David Fletcher singled in the seventh, and Jose Iglesias drew a walk on McKenzie’s 95th and final pitch.

McKenzie struck out eight batters in seven innings under the afternoon shadows. It was an inexact replica of his previous start, in which McKenzie held the Tigers hitless until the eighth inning in Detroit on Aug. 15.

McKenzie’s fastball averaged 93 mph Saturday ― respectable but not overpowering by 2021 standards. His slider and curveball were nearly unhittable. The Angels saw 37 breaking balls from McKenzie in all, swung and missed at 12, and put just three in play. Shohei Ohtani struck out in all three of their head-to-head plate appearances.

“Everybody’s waiting on the breaking ball, he gets ahead with the fastball, which makes the breaking ball a better pitch,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of McKenzie. “From the side, the ball comes out hot. He’s something to be reckoned with in the future.”

After McKenzie left to a partial standing ovation, veteran reliever Brian Shaw allowed a double to Brandon Marsh and an RBI groundout by Jo Adell, giving the Angels their only run. Emanuel Clase pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Overall Cleveland is 25-5 against the Angels since 2016, their best winning percentage against a single opponent during that time.

For Detmers, who allowed seven hits in the shortest of his four major league starts, the lessons came hard.

“I didn’t really land the curveball very much, which hurt,” he said. “I couldn’t get ahead in counts. The one thing I can take from it is, I kept battling. I gave it my all until Joe pulled me.”

Even when Detmers did get ahead in counts, the Progressive Field magic seemed to get in the way. He got ahead of Myles Straw 0-and-2 to begin the third inning but allowed a single. Rosario’s single came with two strikes too. Ramirez’s home run was an apt punishment for a first-pitch curveball that hung in the strike zone. Detmers saw his earned-run average rise from 7.04 to 7.11.

“It’s just a matter of growing up in the major leagues,” Maddon said. “You can’t give Ramirez that pitch. It’s not permitted.”

Detmers’ final line could have been worse. He allowed a double, a single, two walks, and two stolen bases in the first inning, yet Cleveland could not score.

With Rosario on first base, Ramirez hit a double to left field. The Angels executed their outfield relay perfectly, from left fielder Justin Upton to second baseman David Fletcher to catcher Max Stassi. When Rosario tried to score, Stassi was waiting with the tag.

Fletcher also made a nice play going to his left on the second-base side of the bag to deny Bradley Zimmer a first-inning single. He nearly saved another hit by diving to his right on the shortstop side of the bag, and throwing out Owen Miller in the third inning, but the call at first base was overturned by replay review.

“He’s the best defender in the league,” Maddon said of Fletcher. “Any position you want, he’s the best defender in the league. I see it every night. He makes the most unbelievable plays. It’s not just catching the ball clean. It’s the accuracy of his throws. He needs to win a Gold Glove. If I’m going to stump on anybody, that boy needs to win a Gold Glove.”

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15 hours ago, jsnpritchett said:

"The Angels have at least one thing going for them: Sunday’s game isn’t in Cleveland, where they have lost 17 of their last 18 games dating to 2018."

Wow, had no idea about that.  That's embarrassing.

It’s probably in their heads a little bit too. Unfortunately the larger problem is the offense is a dumpster fire right now

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