Angels lose to the Royals, 11-8, after bullpen cracks late

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
The Angels scored enough runs to beat the Kansas City Royals but the bullpen could not hold on in an 11-8 loss.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels offense held its own against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, but the bullpen fell apart in the ninth inning after reliever José Quijada surrendered the team’s lead, leaving them with a .476 record after the 11-8 loss.

“Unfortunately, that was my bad outing, and I’m going to keep working,” said Quijada after the game. 

When Quijada took the mound in the ninth, the Angels had a two-run lead, but he gave up five earned runs on two hits and two walks. He also hit two batters before Austin Warren took over to secure the final out of the game. 

Although the Angels defense struggled in the homestretch, it’s worth noting that the offense told an entirely different tale. Competitive at-bats occurred throughout the night, and the team managed to gain the lead several times. 

Before tonight’s game, Mike Trout was honored with the 2022 Silver Slugger Award which set the stage for his 345th career home run which he hit in the fifth inning of tonight’s game. The 2-run blast into center field earned the Angels their first lead against starting Royals pitcher Zack Greinke. 

Hunter Renfroe followed Trout’s lead, recording not one, but two home runs — his 5th and 6th of the season.

It was also an interesting night for Zach Neto who made his MLB debut this month on April 15. The young shortstop recorded his first major league RBI under a unique set of circumstances.

With two outs, Neto hit a fly ball that was caught, and it looked like the inning was over. However, a balk was called on Royals pitcher Carlos Hernández during the play which resulted in Brandon Drury advancing to second base and Neto getting another chance in the box. He capitalized on that moment with an RBI single that tied the game in the sixth. 

Catcher Matt Thaiss — who will be seeing more playing time after Logan O’Hoppe was placed on the 10-day IL with a left shoulder injury — was an unlikely hero for the Angels offense. The 27-year-old snapped his 0-for-14 streak and recorded his first home run this season, a 389-foot drive into right field. His 2-run homer in the eighth inning gave the Angels their last lead of the night before the closing bullpen stepped in. 

“Definitely not the circumstances we wanted, but we’ll go back out there tomorrow,” said Thaiss about the loss. “I think it was a good step for me today at the plate.”

Tyler Anderson got the start against Greinke with Thaiss behind the plate. Anderson lasted 5.1 innings and gave up 5 earned runs with 7 hits and only 1 strikeout. It may not have been the result he wanted, but Anderson said he’s choosing to see the glass half full. 

“In general, overall, I felt like the quality of pitches and pitch location stuff was a lot better,” said Anderson. “You take the positives from the last couple outings. I’ve given up a lot of hard hit balls and runs on balls that were in the middle of a zone and today, it was like a lot of hits that were not hit as well and I made a lot better locations and made better pitches.”

Despite two errors on the field — one by Gio Urshela at first and one from Renfroe – and the bullpen’s rough performance in the ninth, manager Phil Nevin said he’s not worried about how the team’s been playing. 

“Have we lost games with self-inflicted wounds? Absolutely. Am I worried about that part of it? No, because we’ve not done that in a little while. We’ve played a much better brand of baseball lately than we did a couple of those games in Boston and a couple before that,” he said.